Judge Dumps “Ill-Considered” Sahara Lawsuit Against Adorable Las Vegas Blogger

Hey, it’s our blog, we get to write headlines the way we like.

We’re thrilled to share a Las Vegas judge and our personal hero, District Judge Trevor Atkin, has dismissed Sahara’s defamation lawsuit against this blog.

Censorship

You go, freedom.

The lawsuit was related to a July 2020 rumor we shared that Sahara could close in September.

On the bright side, Sahara hasn’t closed yet. On the bummer side, in fighting for our First Amendment rights, we had to put a lot of evidence on the record that supports the view Sahara isn’t doing well.

When Sahara first raised concerns about our story, we retracted it as a courtesy. That, apparently, didn’t satisfy Sahara. So they sued us, anyway.

We’re still a little unclear about how you “retract” something clearly reported as a rumor, but moving on.

On Sep. 19, 2020, we filed what’s called an anti-SLAPP motion.

Nevada’s anti-SLAPP statue protects free speech and prevents rich people from suing journalists into silence and potentially even bankruptcy. As you may know, we don’t really do silent.

The attorney who filed our anti-SLAPP motion is Marc Randazza, the “father” of Nevada’s anti-SLAPP statute.

Marc Randazza

We’d hug Marc Randazza, but social distancing.

Once Sahara got our Anti-SLAPP motion, four of the five counts in the lawsuit were dropped.

The anti-SLAPP motion was a thing of beauty, and our new favorite person, Judge Atkin, obviously agreed.

The hearing had a number of highlights, including Marc Randazza at one point calling the plaintiff’s argument “adorable.” That’s because you can’t call another lawyer’s argument “moronic,” at least not in court.

Anyway, case dismissed and Sahara pays our hefty legal fees. They can appeal, but then they’d be on the hook for those fees, too, so we’d love for the judge’s ruling to be the end of this unfortunate ordeal.

Well, it was an ordeal for us. Sahara, not so much.

From day one, we tried to work with Sahara to mitigate their concerns. We reached out early and often to try and find some common ground, despite the fact our wish to extend an olive branch to Sahara was sometimes met with billable eye-rolls from our attorney.

If you think about it, it’s so strange olive branches are our symbol of making peace. That dove on the Ark could’ve brought back so many other things. Had things gone differently, we would be extending snails or earthworms.

Olives

Typically, this is the closest Vegas gets to an olive branch.

But back to the legal kerfuffle.

This saga was so unnecessary, and the fallout includes Sahara losing our support when we were one of the casino’s biggest cheerleaders.

We’ve rooted for Sahara’s success all along, and certainly never intended to cause Sahara employees undue alarm. They have enough to worry about.

We’ve shared hundreds of rumors and done many stories based upon industry chatter. It’s how we beat traditional media to the punch time and time again, and it’s one of the reasons we are so beloved. Well, that and 69 jokes.

Not every rumor pans out. Our sources aren’t fortune tellers, nor are we.

But here’s an irrefutable fact: We’ve never made anything up that wasn’t satire.

We had a source for our Sahara story, a representative of a liquidation company asked to bid for the removal and sale of all the physical assets at Sahara. The liquidation bids were set to expire at the end of September, according to the source, hence his belief the resort might close at that time.

We did share an unconfirmed rumor, but it wasn’t a “baseless” rumor.

The bottom line is Sahara didn’t meet the requirements for prevailing in a defamation lawsuit, so it was tossed.

Anti-Slapp Dismissed

This is some of our favorite boom of 2020.

While we will get our legal fees back, we won’t get back the three months we spent dealing with this legal shitshow.

Sahara made numerous demands to settle, demands we considered unreasonable.

We refused to give up our sources.

We refused to never write about, or share industry chatter about, Sahara again.

We refused to allow Sahara “prior restraint,” or review and approval of our stories about Sahara before their publication.

Yes, those were among the demands.

SLS Las Vegas

Here’s to simpler, less litigious, times.

This was never about the money for Sahara, it was about shutting us up. Actually, shutting me up. Scott Roeben. Because while I use the first personal plural (“we”) on this blog, it’s just one person. Holy crap, that was the first time in the history of this blog where I used the first person. That’s so weird.

Back to your regularly scheduled first person plural.

We did everything we could to work with Sahara, to try and salvage the relationship, but nope.

We’ve even been “evicted,” a casino term for banning someone, from Sahara. Which is a shame, because we’ve always talked the place up. Any remaining goodwill has been exhausted.

Emphasis on exhausted.

It’s a wonderful feeling to be vindicated in court, due in no small part to the brilliance of First Amendment champion Marc Randazza.

But mostly we feel spent. The cost, the stress, the continued attacks from Sahara. We’re ready to move on.

But no way we’re moving on before taking a victory lap. Do you know this blog at all?

We beat their ass, and free speech won.

A Sahara spokesperson said they’re disappointed with the judge’s decision.

During the lawsuit, and upon announcement of the judge’s dismissal, we’ve received an incredible outpouring of support. Your support has meant the world to us during this trying time.

The only real bright spot in this mess is Sahara has probably stayed open just to spite us. That’s great for the employees, and while we won’t be able to tell them our feelings in person, they know we love them and miss them. Especially the bartenders at Bazaar Meat and Casbar Lounge and the taco place. You know who you are.

As you know, 2020 has been a complete dumpster fire. Not all the news is going to be good news.

The dismissal of this case is good news, not just for us, but for all the journalists and broadcasters and bloggers and podcasters and Twitter enthusiasts out there.

The First Amendment is worth fighting for, and we’ll keep doing what we do. Gird your loins.

63 thoughts on “Judge Dumps “Ill-Considered” Sahara Lawsuit Against Adorable Las Vegas Blogger

    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      Thanks. Tough question. I would say I’d learn more about how to protect myself further from such legal action, but I think I did what I could do. You can be sued for anything, so it comes with the territory, unfortunately.

      Reply
  1. Dean

    So the Sahara is still open? It didn’t close last month? I’ll have to make it down to that end of the strip sometime before the end of the year.

    Reply
  2. Mike Alexakis

    I highly doubt the Sahara stayed open just to spite you, corporations that are run on human emotion are mismanaged corporations, if my wife was the CEO, maybe… The in house attorney for Sahara is in some deep feces, he/she made a very poor calculation, your attorney is going to take them to the cleaners, shake them upside down and collect the change that falls out… A high brow lawyer like Randazza has likely already litigated his per hour fees in court, I wish him well, you guys made a stand for the little guy…

    Reply
    1. Jackson

      As I noted in one of the other articles about this saga, the house attorney for the Sahara has the same business address as the hotel owner. As such, it’s not like some third-party attorney was advising the hotel owner. They were one in the same.

      Reply
  3. Jenn In Las Vegas

    Congrats! Your victory is especially sweet because you get attorney fees (a feat in and of itself). I am all-around impressed.

    Reply
  4. Daniel A Vazquez

    This is what happens when the little guy stands tough, congratulations on putting up an excellent fight. Thank you for all you do for us regular folks and keep up the fine work you do.

    Reply
  5. Michael Bluejay

    Mike Alexakis wrote: “I highly doubt the Sahara stayed open just to spite you, corporations that are run on human emotion are mismanaged corporations.”

    Did you notice that this corporation recently filed a petty, non-winnable lawsuit against a local blogger?

    Reply
    1. Mike Alexakis

      Running a near empty casino resort with hundreds of employees is not comparable to a lawsuit filed by in house lawyer… Scott’s ace attorney might collect around twenty thousand dollars, he likely gets near a thousand an hour. Bazaar Meat at Sahara was just listed among the top 100 independent restaurants in the entire country as far as gross receipts, that establishment alone might be the foot traffic draw keeping them afloat, only they know… VitalVegas is a big player, but casino hotels dwarf it…

      Reply
  6. matthew roberts

    Congrats! Maybe I’ll post something snarky on their FB page. Pretty sure I’ll never go there again, anyway if they’re going to try to intimidate people.

    Reply
    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      Thanks, but don’t deprive yourself of something you might enjoy. Sahara is a great spot despite the unfortunate decisions of ownership and management.

      Reply
      1. Mark

        Given the PITA you dealt with that is a really decent sentiment. I have read your blogs for quite some time and you were always inclined to put in a good word for the place. Glad for your outcome and hope the tides turn positive for the Sahara as well. Jobs, jobs and more jobs for Vegas!

        Reply
  7. Hornbet

    Fair to say that besides exhausting your goodwill, they’ve eliminated any potential foot traffic from all of the Vital Vegas fans out there. Bad wager on their part, but wouldn’t you think that they would have known that from the start?

    Reply
  8. William Wingo

    Bombay Sapphire–good choice. Goes great with Martini & Rossi vermouth. and a couple of pickled onions (technically a Gibson.} In fact, I’m having one right now.
    Congratulations–and cheers.

    Reply
    1. Jackson Montgomery

      Speculation: The hotel owners never expected that the case would go to court. They gambled on the fact that many people don’t have the resources necessary to hire a first-rate lawyer.

      Reply
      1. Scott Roeben Post author

        I trust that’s true. That’s why the anti-SLAPP statue exists. To keep wealthy and powerful people and companies from bullying those who may not have the resources to fight such legal intimidation. The system worked this time.

        Reply
  9. Mark A. Erichson

    “We” thank you, Scott, and we’re so happy for your victory!
    (And, BTW, we won’t ever be visiting Sahara again.)

    Reply
  10. James Smith

    Scott, I think you’re the best Vegas blogger out there – congratulations!

    However, I wouldn’t use the word adorable to describe you….

    Reply
    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      Rude and thank you! I just wanted to make sure SOMEBODY called me adorable in this news coverage. “)

      Reply
  11. Delta Dave

    Congratulations Scott !! While I’m glad to hear they got to pay your lawyer fees, It’s too bad they didn’t get to fork over a tidy sum in damages…. I can’t imagine the amount of time you’ve had to put into this….Thanks for not giving in !!!

    Reply
  12. BST

    Congrats ! 🙂
    I much enjoy VitalVegas , always so informative. I learn a lot of the happenings in Vegas and fun to read .
    I always like to pop into Sahara for awhile when in Vegas . I agree the unfortunate decisions of ownership and management aside it is a great spot . Your integrity shines through with the fact you make this statement after their ridiculous lawsuit and that you had made every effort to salvage the relationship.
    Keep up the great work and congrats again .

    Reply
  13. Mike H

    We were sad to hear the Sahara’s choice to take this route. From our experience the only winners in law suits are the attorney’s. It sounds like this was the case here. We never really went there much, so when we don’t go back because they were rude to our friend, Scott….I doubt they will miss us or us them.
    We are so glad for you it is over, we make a daily stop here at your blog, and it was surely wearing on you.
    Congrats Scott!!!!!

    Reply
  14. Amendment One

    I think the efforts of Sahara to control the message by requiring you to submit your writing for approval is the most despicable part of the whole thing. I get the lawsuit. That’s petty cash on their expense ledger.

    Trying to restrict your freedom in order to back off their lawsuit, absolutely despicable.

    That is why I’ll never set foot in their casino again.

    Reply
    1. Michael Bluejay

      I was born into a bona-fide mind control cult (Aesthetic Realism), and they tried to pull the same stunt: If they would deign to let the media interview them, they insisted on pre-approving the story before it was published. (Of course no respectable journalist ever agreed.) Anyway, the point is, Sahara is apparently at the same level as a mind-control cult. Does not reflect well on them.

      Reply
  15. Vegas Regular

    Well done, like the steaks at Bazaar Meat! As a former newspaper (you know, those things before blogs) journalist who was threatened with egregious lawsuits more than once, I appreciate your stand for First Amendment principles. As a Vegas Regular and former visitor to Sahara I appreciate your insight, tips and Rat Pack attitude. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  16. Ryan

    I love the old Sahara and SLS too much to not check out the new rebranded Sahara but they are going to start out with one strike against them when I do. Congrats on the win!

    Reply
    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      Enjoy, they’ve done great things with the place and it’s unfortunate its challenges have been amplified by the pandemic.

      Reply
  17. Rutlemaniac

    If you had given in to their ridiculous demands you would have lost all credibility. Good for you.

    Perhaps they should open up a casino in China, Russia, or Canada.

    Reply
    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      Thanks. I actually offered a number of concessions along the way (against my lawyer’s advice) to try and smooth things over, but the demands were unrealistic. Nobody publication agrees to prior restraint in America. It was clear this was ego-driven, and that made it impossible to salvage the relationship, unfortunately.

      Reply
  18. Toti From Vegas

    Hey Scott, I’m glad you were able to resolve such a unnecessary, redundant, gelatinous splatter on your windshield of 2020. It seems like while the SLSAHARA is hemorrhaging and practically deflating with crumpled up dollar bills spewing out, they would have bigger things to worry about than you. But I guess because you’re SUCH a nuisance I suppose they had to just let you have it. Wow, I’m so thrilled with their ass whooping toward you, they really showed you!!!
    It’s hard to contain the overflowing sarcasm…anyways,
    for the past couple of years you’ve been bringing me through my middle and highschool days ever since I got really obsessed with the Riv and you kept me updated when I wasn’t grabbing a Luv-It and heading over there every day. Praise to Trev and Marc for giving you the shield you needed. Continue to make us laugh, which I would say “me” but now you make it weird to say anything but “we”.

    Reply
  19. JoeVegas

    Well glad the lawsuit is behind you and you won.
    This was a nuisance suit of course. Still I have to think
    Publishing a rumor a business is going to close permanently
    Probably shouldn’t be put out there unless you can
    100% verify the claim as being accurate. It’s kinda the same as knocking someone’s character. Fortunately for you the slander laws are written that you have to have acted in malice or under the knowing something is not true. This gives people a wide bar to publish stuff even if it could be interpreted as reckless.

    Reply
    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      This was a sourced story and the court agreed it was anything but reckless. People should have a wide berth. It’s called free speech.

      Reply
  20. VegasDummy

    That’s pretty wild that they banned you, speaking that they started this mess, and a court of law proved that they were in the wrong. Reminiscent of a child trying to get the last word in while stomping off after being grounded.

    Reply
  21. Powerserg

    I am so sorry that this happened to you. I love your blog but also I love Sahara. As an out-of-towner I use your blog for inside scoop on the goings on, and I frequent the Sahara because it is calmer, and very good comps for someone on my budget. It is like my two best friends were fighting. I hope you guys patch things up, I truly believe you will continue to shoot straight about them, as you continue to say nice things about the place. I wish they would grow up.

    Reply
    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      I’ve reached out on several occasions to try and work things out, but they weren’t having it. I have never deterred anyone from going somewhere they enjoy. I did the same at one time.

      Reply
  22. Doug

    Congrats! Next time they sue you, please do me a solid and ensure your settlement includes restoring the property to its 1994 glory by reinstating the mechanical coin-operated slots and panguingue tables, permanently reinstating Cook E. Jarr and the Crumbs in the Casbar lounge, and bringing the ghost of Buddy Hackett back to the showroom.

    Reply
  23. EddieV

    Loved the old sahara. Been to SLS a few times and was not impressed. Wife and i tried to have lunch at tgr northern cafe and had ti leave after 25 minutes when the server came to our table to re-take our order as it somehow got lost from server to kitchen the first time.

    Reply
  24. SoCal Gamer Dude

    Enquiring minds want to know, now what this ‘shitshow’ is over, can you kindly publish on this comments the original post that got you into (and out of) this mess? Kudos to you for the legal victory – sorry you are still ‘uninvited’ to some great restaurants and friends. We don’t know if there’s some ban on re-publishing the original post for sake of interest (clearly marked as old / inaccurate as needed)… Your blog is excellent and a great source of Vegas information for these SoCal Vegas donors…

    Reply
    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      Ha, yeah, removing the original post was a gesture of goodwill, which I now regret given they have exhibited none.

      Reply

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