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September 1, 2014

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Hundreds descend on Sahara, take the money (or not) and run

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John Katsilometes

The casino floor fills with ticket-holders hoping to win $500 in the Sahara’s cash giveaway on Friday night.

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The poker room at the Sahara, inactive during the drawing for the cash giveaway.

This morning at the Seattle’s Best Coffee at the Sahara, which has become sort of a Kats Report sub-bureau, a woman told me, “We’re all winners just for being here!”

But it would have been doubly rewarding to be a winner, monetarily. Then you could “be here” and, in this instance, be $500 richer.

As required by the state Gaming Commission, the hotel doled out the money it was keeping onsite to pay cash jackpots before the casino shuts for good Monday morning. That was a little more than $31,500, and guests were welcome to fill out raffle tickets from 1 to 6:30 p.m. Friday and drop them into a big, clear plastic drum.

Beginning at 7 p.m., the hotel’s outgoing director of slot operations, R. “Mac” McKinney, began shouting names, 10 at a time, giving those who were called 10 minutes to hustle to collect their money. Only two were absent.

The event drew hundreds of people. The casino floor was stuffed with guests -- and even employees -- hoping for some quick cash. But at the end, nearly everyone in that crowd swiftly seeped out of the hotel.

At the end, the Sahara can barely give it away.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow "Kats With the Dish" at twitter.com/KatsWithTheDish.

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