Iconic Las Vegas Casino, Tropicana, Shuts Down After 70 Years

Iconic Las Vegas Casino, Tropicana, Shuts Down After 70 Years
Wild Casino

The Tropicana Las Vegas, the emblematic casino that is connected like no other to the myth of Sin City, is shutting down its doors after almost seven decades.

The legendary Nevada casino will be demolished in the Spring to make room for a $1.5 billion Major League Baseball stadium that will be home to the relocating Oakland Athletics.

Bally’s Corp. which bought Tropicana for $308 million in 2021, announced that the closing date will be April 2. just days before its 67th birthday, to make preparations for the demolition of the resort on the Las Vegas Strip.

The master plan is that nine acres of the 35-acre site would be turned over to Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics to be used for a future 33,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof that is expected to open in 2028.

“Bally’s looks forward to the development of a new resort and ballpark that will be built in its place and will become a new landmark, paying homage to the iconic history and global appeal of Las Vegas and its nearly 50 million visitors a year,” the company said in a news release.

History of the Legendary Resort

The Tropicana was a project of Ben Jaffe, part owner of the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami. He was intended to make it the finest hotel in Las Vegas with three stories and 300 rooms. It cost $15 million, including $800,000 for decorating and tropical landscaping. It was the most expensive Las Vegas resort up to that point. It was advertised as “the Tiffany’s of the Strip.”

Jaffe first leased the property to Phil Kastel, who supervised the project during construction. However, the Gaming Control Board raised suspicions over Kastel’s apparent links to organized crime, prompting him to sell his interest in the Tropicana in early 1957.

This paved the way for the issuance of a gaming license. The Tropicana hosted a preview opening for local residents on April 3, 1957, before opening to the general public a day later.

The resort’s involvement with organized crime was confirmed a month later, when a note bearing a Tropicana earnings figure was found in the possession of mobster Frank Costello. Police investigation led to an executive and a cashier who had ties with the mob and forced the management to expel them.

The resort had several entertainment venues with most notable been the 400-seat Blue Room where notable jazz performers that included Louis Armstrong, Erroll Garner, Benny Goodman, Al Hirt and the Ramsey Lewis Trio played there.

Shows such as the Tropicana Holiday, a striptease revue starring Jayne Mansfield, opened in 1958. In 1959, a topless revue titled Folies Bergere, imported from Paris, was added. Aside from the showgirls, Folies Bergere also featured other acts, including the Las Vegas debut of magicians Siegfried & Roy (1967) and Lance Burton (1982). The 1,100-seat Main theater hosted many music performances from pop stars.

The 1960s was the heyday of the Tropicana. However, in the 1970s competition from new, more luxurious hotels like Caesars Palace and the Las Vegas Hilton overshadowed the Tropicana. A mob skimming operation in 1978 severely impacted the resort’s finances. Joe Agosto, then-owner of the casino’s Folies Bergere show, oversaw the siphoning of money from the cashier cage to the Kansas City crime family. A year later, an FBI investigation uncovered mob activity in Las Vegas casinos.

From then on the Tropicana started changing hands frequently and going through renovations and additions. In April 2021, Bally’s Corp. agreed to purchase the Tropicana, a deal that was finalized in September 2022.