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Key Largo Casino had just a small role in Las Vegas history

1 April 2013

LAS VEGAS -- The now-burned-out and soon-to-be-demolished Key Largo Casino actually had a bit part in Las Vegas lore. It was one reason the casino became the Key Largo.

The closed Flamingo Road casino, which caught fire Thursday, opened in 1973 as the Ambassador. In the 1980s, it was renamed the La Mirage Casino.

In 1989, Steve Wynn was about to open The Mirage, the Strip’s first new resort in almost 15 years. Wynn didn’t want any confusion with his $565 million development, so he went around town and spent $750,000 to purchase the name “Mirage” from the off-Strip casino and a downtown motel.

La Mirage became known as the Quality Inn Hotel. In 1997, the property’s ownership gave the casino a $7 million renovation to create a South Florida-enhanced theme.

When ownership closed the Key Largo in 2005, plans were under way to develop the roughly 5-acre parcel across from the Hughes Center and near Paradise Road into a 196-foot-tall high-rise condominium and hotel project of more than 1,000 units.

Obviously, the development stalled and the Key Largo sat deteriorating until Thursday.