Gaming veteran Paul Hobson to head SLS Las VegasBuck Wargo, Las Vegas Business Press · April 24, 2018 at 7:49 pmSitting on a leather sofa in the Sayers Club, a stylish live music bar at the SLS Las Vegas, Paul Hobson knows he will be judged by the numbers. That’s fine with the former finance major who’s more personable than the stereotype of a bean counter.Hobson, who never expected a career in the casino industry when he graduated from Arizona State in 1989, now finds himself in charge of a struggling property on the Strip.The former Sahara Hotel, which celebrated the Strip’s glorious past of the Rat Pack, closed in 2011 in the aftermath of the Great Recession. It has struggled since it was refurbished and reopened in August 2014 as the SLS Las Vegas. Hobson, the new general manager under new ownership moved down the street to change that performance and sees a bright future over the next five years as the North Strip expands.On March 22, Alex Meruelo, who owns the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, closed on the acquisition of the SLS from Stockbridge Capital Group. He vowed to spend up to $100 million to revitalize the property with a fresher look that would ultimately make the casino, which was once on the verge of bankruptcy, to be profitable.The 51-year-old Hobson, who broke into the industry in 1990 with Caesars Tahoe, was named to the post on April 5. He moved to the SLS after serving seven years as general manager at the Stratosphere. A graduate of Arizona State University with a degree in finance, Hobson knows his mission — to turn the property around — and with Meruelo’s assets and track record, it’s just a matter of time, he said.“No one has struck the right approach with the asset,” Hobson said. “And with Alex Meruelo coming on, he was able to do with (the former Reno Hilton) in taking a struggling property that is now the premier property in that market. His energy and enthusiasm got me excited to be part of something here that could make an impression in this market and do some stuff that hasn’t been done.”Hobson said he’s had a chance to follow the SLS since he worked in the same neighborhood and discovered what a “neat property” and how the “space is rich and well-designed.” The sale was announced in May 2017 and has taken 10 months to close, and Hobson said the first step is to “stabilize things” because the property has been in flux as they were putting the deal together.“Now, we have the ability to get in front of the team and say we are part of a new group, a new family, give some stability and start laying the foundation — working with the pieces and discovering that right approach that will lead us forward,” Hobson said.