SLS Las Vegas Shares Peek at New Casino

SLS Las Vegas has taken down a construction wall enclosing a section of its casino, revealing a dramatically different look and feel the new owner and his management team hope will help change the fortunes of the long-struggling resort.

SLS casino renovation

SLS is getting it some fancy.

The new owner of SLS, Alex Meruelo, has said he’ll invest $100 million in making over the former Sahara.

SLS Las Vegas

In Vegas, never don’t bling.

The new decor at SLS more closely aligns with what traditional casino patrons expect, veering away from a trendier look, including a fairly unpopular “unfinished” ceiling with exposed ducts.

SLS Las Vegas renovation

This was one of the few things in Vegas that didn’t benefit from exposure.

The new interior design at SLS will be familiar to those familiar with Meruelo’s other resort, the Grand Sierra Resort & Casino in Reno.

It’s expected SLS will be rebranded Grand Sahara Resort & Casino at some point.

The carpeting is also a distinct departure from the eclectic SLS design.

SLS renovation

New on the left, old on the right.

The new carpeting actually has a hypnotic effect if you look at it long enough.


It’s an urban myth casino carpeting is busy to force players to look up at the slot machines. They’re designed to camouflage stains.

One of our favorite features of the casino at SLS was the giant, high-resolution video screen over the center bar. The screen is known for featuring slick, 3-D animation.

The plug’s been pulled on the screen, but we’ve been informed it will be relocated elsewhere in the resort, near Bazaar Meat restaurant. So, there’s that.

SLS renovation

The screen showed 3-D legs, a duck and a human face.

Oh, like we were going to mention a freaky 3-D face and not actually show it to you? Do you know us at all?

We were going to spend more time talking about how much we like the direction of the SLS Las Vegas overhaul, but we were kicked out of the resort for taking photos. Buzzkill.


Look! It’s a photo we weren’t allowed to take! Suck it, The Man.

While overzealous casino security is an all-too-common phenomenon in Las Vegas, being kicked out of SLS raised some red flags for us.

See, SLS may not realize what it’s up against.

No matter what’s invested in the resort’s renovations (it won’t be $100 million), none of it will matter if SLS doesn’t differentiate itself with amazing service, a friendly, welcoming environment and a fun, lively casino.

Kicking out a casino guest for taking photos is a great example of the exact opposite of all that.

SLS renovation

A little compare-and-contrast action.

SLS needs word-of-mouth. SLS needs buzz. SLS needs to be a party. SLS needs to get its shit together.

SLS also needs to appeal to locals, and locals aren’t going to put up with poorly-trained staff or intrusive policies for one minute.

SLS needs to attract and retain every possible customer it can. If someone walks up to the casino cage and tries to rob it, SLS needs to offer the thief a line of credit.

We were taking photos. Of things the resort itself had shared in its social media channels earlier in the day. We posed no security risk. We weren’t taking photos of gamblers with their mistresses.

A simple request to discontinue taking photos would’ve been understood (yes, reluctantly, because such policies are outdated and idiotic) and accommodated. And we’d have gambled and had dinner at Cleo.


Spirals were engraved in Mayan temples. We’d show you a photo of one, but the Mayans had strict policies about such things. You see what happened to the ancient Mayans. Just saying.

Alienate guests without cause and word gets around.

Treat employees poorly, word gets around.

Breeze into our town (yes, it’s ours) and think you’ll succeed because you’re a big deal in Reno and you changed out some light fixtures—you’re destined to fail. And we’ll be there for a heaping helping of schadenfreude.

Give us a warm smile, decent odds, looser slots, great food (see the aforementioned Cleo) and make us feel welcome and respected and appreciated, you may just have a chance of success, slim as it is.

28 thoughts on “SLS Las Vegas Shares Peek at New Casino

  1. Andy

    I’m not familiar with other Meruelo properties but this looks a lot like a mid ’00 Station’s property. It’s very nice of course but like former SLS nothing that will want me to drive up there to check it out. Then,if staff really acted the way they did this place it’s already an X to me.

      1. Michael Zotara

        Maybe they want their own official pictures published and not a reporter or tourist? If they take down walls during or after construction, I’d say it’s fair to take pics, unless there is a notice prohibiting that. Hopefully they get their act together and help revitalize the area!

    1. Davehat

      It all depends on WHICH security guy you meet. In Cosmopolitan after a Marquee Pool party they made us leave the back of the casino (valet exit), when I actually wanted to exit the front door (my car was at Planet Hollywood). I told the security dude it was stupid, and he then “trespassed” me from the casino for the rest of the day 🙁 Note I had no drinks that day, so I was not a belligerent drunk. The security was just being a power-corrupt idiot.

      My other two pet peeves:

      – Parking fees

      – the Live Entertainment Tax passed by Nevada that adds ~10 dollars to every nightclub ticket I buy. They were already collecting sales tax, so why add a second tax? Greedy politicians


  2. BoulderSteve

    You were kicked out because your photos show the biggest problem with customers, I know you should not photograph people’s face in a casino but there are no bodies present. Very depressing. Like you say a lively casino is a successful casino.

    1. Larry

      When is last time you were at SLS? I’ve been many times recently( Cleo and Bazaar) and place is much busier. That’s an old narrative.

      1. Scott Roeben Post author

        Not the case during my visits. The restaurants do well (and make more than the casino), but the casino floor is often completely empty.

      2. Dave Hat

        SLS is boring. I’ve been there twice for pool parties, featuring 3rd tier DJs, and was not impressed by the scene or decor.

        Cleo and Bazaar are disappointing compared to their Hollywood & Beverly Hills locations. Sure the food is good, but Cleo in Hollywood is decorated with images of actresses (as Cleopatra) all around the restaurant, which is located in an retro historic building.

        Bazaar Beverly Hills is subdivided into 5 sections: Outside patio, inside restaurant, back-of-house dark area for romance, and a late night bar that stays open even after the restaurant has closed. There’s also a whole section devoted to unusual displays (the bazaar)

    2. Janet T. Crawford

      Got it!!! That is probably the reason. I snap photos all the time and never had a problem. I agree with you Steve!!!!

  3. Boulder Steve

    It’s been awhile since I didn’t enjoy my last visit and after the way they treated Scott it will a long time before I return…if ever

  4. Kevzilla

    You don’t tug on Superman’s cape
    You don’t spit into the wind
    You don’t pull the mask off the ol’ Lone Ranger
    And you don’t keep Scott from eating at Cleo

  5. Chill Dude

    I hope that relaxed, chill vibe isn’t gone, man. It was so great, man. They say don’t fix it if it ain’t broken, man. I don’t get it, man. It was so chill. That’s what Vegas needs, man.

  6. Coop

    KEVZILLA!! They know not what they have done. Scott does (did) far better advertising for them than they ever did. wooops. Hey casinos maybe you should have a white list along with your black list. Mr Roeben right this way sir, Your fav table at Cleo awaits. I would have no idea Cleo or anything else existed beyond the strip and Fremont without Scott.

  7. Funkhouser

    I was going to pop in during my visit next month. Now I say F’em. Who wants to visit a property
    where social media posters are harassed. Scott you should call them out on your weekly news piece.

    A little public shaming never hurts. Along with some cross posting on the Vegas Facebook groups / boards that management is behaving in a DoucheBagger Vance way.

    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      Agree and thanks. I did a little mention on Channel 8. Their policy is misguided, especially when smartphone cameras have such excellent photo quality–the distinction between iPhones and pro cameras is diminishing with each passing day.

    2. alex

      If you want to have a direct impact, take a couple of minutes to tell SLS that you crossed them off your to-do list (and why). The response will tell you a lot about the management. Email addresses and social media links can be found on their Contact page:

      I thought about emailing but realized I would have to lie. This property isn’t one I’d voluntarily visit…so saying I’m boycotting is basically lying.

  8. Michael

    The Sahara was much better. The SLS tries/tried to cater to the $30,000 millionaire. I’ve gambled there once. Got a beer at their so called beer garden and the bartender couldn’t pour a decent beer (half the glass was foam) and I got attitude from the bartender when I asked for a full pour. I hear the food is good, but unless it’s free, I won’t try it.

  9. BoulderSteve

    If they were mid Strip maybe they could get away with that crap but there not so they should be trying harder than the others. It’s not that complicated

  10. George

    I think it looks MUCH better

    I also think they get to decide their media approach. Not us.

    Perhaps they want to host a media day when they have a finished product to present, not one unfinished corner of a casino?

    It’s also a false equivalency to suggest/assume that the public/customer would be treated in the same manner as a website photog taking apparently unauthorized photos. JMO

    1. Funkhouser

      Don’t count on customers being treated any better. A few years ago Linq security was harassing people who were taking High Roller pictures with anything other than a cell phone, myself included. Security thought mistakenly that a tourist with Cannon Powershot was taking commercial photos vs Joe Smoe with his iPhone. It took a little public shaming to show them how ridiculous they were being. Bad policy starts with some poorly trained staff member harassing the average tourist.

      1. Scott Roeben Post author

        Yes, yes and more yes. It’s not just annoying, it’s telling of the competence and attitude of management.

  11. David

    Yawn. Lipstick on a pig, still a pig and good chance your car will,be stolen from the parking garage while your milked in the casino and restaurants.

  12. David

    Yawn. Lipstick on a pig, still a pig and good chance your car will,be stolen from the parking garage while your milked in the casino and restaurants.

  13. John Howell

    Very Nice casino, My wife and I stayed there back in May this year. Spacious not over crowded, great food,great pool Area,moderate table pricing on the floor..

  14. j0esilly

    I have stayed and played at almost ever Vegas casino on the strip and several off strip, for the past 5 years I have only stayed and played primarily at SLS because it was different… it was not overcrowded, they have great food, and most dealers, pit bosses, and floor supervisors know me by name. The atmosphere was awesome and I hope the changes don’t ruin all of that. I agree that some of the staff could use a “how to be friendly” crash course, but in all of my stays, that’s only a handful. I heard they want to put a ton of money into the pool and compete with some of the best pools/clubs in Vegas, I am in favor of that because the main pool was not heated and had a short season.


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