Klondike casino closing after decades on the Las Vegas Strip

Las Vegas (AP) – Gamblers have bet their last at the kitschy Klondike, a south Las Vegas Strip landmark that new owners plan to raze to make way for a new hotel and condominium complex.

“I think we were standing in the way of progress,“ said John Woodrum, who bought the former Motel 6 with partner Katsumi Kazama in 1974 for USD 1.2 million and converted it in 1978 into a casino, restaurant, bar and lounge with a 153-room hotel.

The property, which first opened in 1962, was a popular stop for motorists from California because of its location at the southern edge of the Strip near the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas“ sign.

Woodrum sold the property in September for about USD 24 million to Royal Palm Las Vegas, part of a Florida company that also bought an adjacent vacant 5.25-acre site. it plans to build a hotel with about 900 rooms, 1,200 condominium-hotel units, and a casino more than seven times larger than the 12,000-square-foot Klondike.

The casino ceased operations Wednesday, and the restaurant and hotel will close Friday.

The closure signals a decline in “mom and pop“ casinos and a time when small civic gestures were common on the Strip, said David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

When electricity to the lighted “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas“ sign was shut off during a 1970s ownership dispute between municipalities, Woodrum reconnected power and kept it lighted until Clark County assumed responsibility for the sign in 1976.