This week in the Las Vegas History Series, we are going to take you back to a South Florida themed hotel with the Key Largo Hotel and Casino. It was located just a mile East of the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. Opened from 1997 to 2005, the casino was over 9000 square feet of gaming space and the hotel had over 300 rooms.
Before it was the Key Largo Hotel and Casino and tribute to the Florida Keys, it opened in 1974 as part of the Ambassador Inn Hotel chain. By 1978 like many things in Vegas, gaming would end up coming into this resort. However, the Ambassador name would remain. 1981 would bring a new $1 million dollar renovation under new owners.
In the year of 1982, the casino portion of the resort would end up being closed down due to the reported poor economy at the time. During the time it was open, reportedly the Ambassador Casino had six blackjack tables, over 100 slot machines, and one craps table.
In 1986 the name would end up changing to the La Mirage Casino. It would be run at the time by the Rabone family. While Nicholas Rabone was under investigation for skimming money while he was at the Continental Hotel and Casino, the casino was granted a two-month gaming license. After nothing was found from the investigation, the family received a 12-month gaming license.
Another hotel in town named the Mirage Motel sued the La Mirage because they said it would cause customer confusion. But on July 1, 1988, the year before the opening of the Mirage on the Las Vegas Strip, Steve Wynn paid both businesses a reported $250,000 to stop using the Mirage name. The name of La Mirage’s casino would be renamed to Anthony’s Casino. The Hotel’s name would change to the Quality Inn. 1993 it became the Quality Inn and Casino.
By 1997, it would become the Key Largo Hotel and Casino and that South Florida theme would finally arrive. There was reported to be a $7 million dollar renovation. The opening date was August 29, 1997. There were four blackjack tables, a roulette wheel, and over 200 slot machines and the casino would later even add a sportsbook in 1999. Tourists liked the place for the cheap hotel accommodations and a $1.99 hamburger.
The end of the Key Largo would be in 2005. According to the Las Vegas Sun the Clark County Commission approved a proposal to build a condo tower with 905 units there. A resort project that never materialized was also planned. Some believe the reason for the Key Largo’s downfall was that Ellis Island and Terrible’s/now Silver Sevens were more appealing to patrons on that side of town. The gaming license for the land expired in 2007 and that was all she wrote.
Unfortunately, there are multiple stories about fires occurring at the abandoned resort and squatters living inside. One included back in 2008 where a man was trying to steal copper wire from the building and he did not realize the power was still on. He would end up starting a fire. He reportedly suffered burns on the majority of his body. Then in March of 2013, another fire broke out and over 100 firefighters were called to the scene. There were over $4 million dollars in damage. No bodies were found inside the remaining pieces of the resort. Demolition work was conducted and approved that year.
If anyone has any memories of the Key Largo Hotel and Casino, please send me along a message. I’d love to hear your stories. Below you can find our chip collection and cards from Ambassador, La Mirage, Anthony’s and Key Largo Hotel and Casino. You can purchase each clicking the picture.
Key Largo Casino Chip Collection and Cards:
Ambassador Casino Chip Collection:
Anthony’s Casino Chip Collection:
La Mirage Casino Chip:
Ashtray of the Week: