The Nevada Gaming Commission has approved the ownership transfer of SLS Las Vegas to The Meruelo Group. The casino-hotel built on the bones of the Saraha was previously owned by Stockbridge Capital Group. The Meruelo Group adds the 1,616-room, three-tower resort-casino, including the W Las Vegas to its casino holdings which include the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, NV.
“We have been looking forward to this day with great enthusiasm,” said Alex Meruelo, Principal of The Meruelo Group. “SLS Las Vegas is a fantastic asset with tremendous potential, and we are thrilled to be acquiring the property. This is a lifetime dream and a rare opportunity to own a property on the Las Vegas Strip.”
The Meruelo Group will become the only privately held company to own properties in both Reno and Las Vegas. The company purchased Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in 2011, quickly transforming the property into a vibrant, profitable resort-casino. “The timing couldn’t be better for this acquisition,” said Mr. Meruelo. “There is approximately $10 billion of planned investment and growing energy on the North Las Vegas Strip.”
The Meruelo Group plans to invest up to $100 million in upgrading, renovating, and enhancing the property. They plan to renovate the rooms, pools, casino floor and entertainment venues. The company tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal that they plan to keep the SLS name for another year. In that time they will explore other options.
The first change most visitors will notice is that the 32-foot tall statue by the Vegas Strip will come down. The abstract statue named “Sam by Starck” was conceptualized by artist Philippe Starck. There are no plans for a future home for the statue. The Meruelo Group hasn’t announced a date when they will remove Sam.
Details on most specific upgrades are not yet available. However, a spokesperson for The Meruelo Group says they plan to brighten up the very dark casino floor. They’re also planning on adding new slot machines to a massive gaming floor. The previous owner of SLS Las Vegas seemed to have a problem creating a comfortable flow in the casino that encouraged guests to travel from the Vegas Strip entrance to the Paradise Avenue entrance. It will be interesting to see how they handle this task.
Don’t expect to see too many major changes at SLS Las Vegas right away. The investment plan is long-term and will take place over the next couple of years. It would be nice to see SLS Las Vegas become a good value hotel. Many of the Vegas Strip casinos are upgrading and attempting to fetch higher prices with higher-end amenities.
This gambler hopes they will keep the 10x craps odds, remove all 6:5 blackjack, and upgrade at least some of the video poker machines to have full-pay returns for quarter denomination players. While there are rumors floating around about the property, there have been none of the gaming rules and odds.
Lastly, it would great to see The Meruelo Group bring the Club Grand loyalty club to SLS Las Vegas. Not only is this a rewarding club but it would provide a direct link to Reno for locals and tourists that enjoy the Las Vegas casino.
Marc Meltzer covers Las Vegas, gaming and men’s lifestyle for various outlets. Check out his blog at Edge Vegas.