Newly renovated Vegas Strip hotel lays off workers

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

LAS VEGAS (AP) — One of the newest names on the Las Vegas Strip has laid off staff and cut restaurant hours less than two months after opening

Officials with the SLS Las Vegas casino-hotel didn't provide a number of layoffs but said it accounted for less than 2 percent of its total workforce. SBE Group, the Los Angeles-based company that owns the hotel, said at the time the hotel opened Aug. 23 that it had hired for about 3,400 jobs.

A statement from the company says the layoffs weren't specific to any department at the 1,600-room property. SLS Las Vegas replaced the Sahara casino, shuttered in 2011.

Rich Mbariket who designed the digital video advertisements for the casino-hotel's nightclubs seen on the hotel's marquee, was among those laid off. He posted the news to his personal blog Friday after refusing the company's severance offer.

Mbariket said he wasn't bitter about his dismissal. "I just wasn't expecting layoffs after six weeks of opening," he said.

The news didn't worry observers.

Alex Bumazhny with Fitch Ratings said it was normal for a casino to trim its workforce shortly after debuting because business can be difficult to predict before opening.

What's less common is the low number of layoffs in this case, less than two percent, said Arte Nathan, a retired human resources executive for Wynn casino-hotel properties in Las Vegas and now a faculty member at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

"It's hard to get it exactly right. But if you're 98 percent right, that's pretty good," he said.

SLS Las Vegas also cut buffet hours from every day to three days. The company said it plans to use the space for private events on days the buffet isn't open.

The statement says SLS Las Vegas remains "beyond optimistic on the continued evolution and growth" of the northern end of the Strip.