Fontainebleau to finally open in December after clearing final regulatory hurdle
Now comes the fun part.
After four appearances in front of state gaming regulators and four approvals, the $3.7 billion Fontainebleau Las Vegas is now preparing to open in a little more than three weeks.
The debut has been 16 years in the making.
“It's been a long time and [the Fontainebleau] has been talked about through the years,” Fontainebleau CEO Jeffrey Soffer, the original developer of the resort who reacquired the unfinished building in 2021, told the Nevada Gaming Commission Thursday.
The gaming commission took 30 minutes to approve a gaming license for Miami-based Fontainebleau Development, operators of the nearly 3,700-room north Strip resort that first began construction in 2007, only to be mothballed after myriad financial issues.
Soffer said after the hearing that the approved gaming license “marks a pivotal milestone in our journey, and we are deeply appreciative of the trust and confidence that commission members have placed [on the resort].”
The property will open to the public on Dec. 13 following a lavish, private black-tie reception. Grammy Award-nominated singer Post Malone will headline the Strip resort’s inaugural New Year’s Eve weekend festivities with performances in the property’s 3,800-seat BleauLive Theater on Dec. 30-31.
Fontainebleau Las Vegas President Mark Tricano told commissioners the operators have wanted to keep the resort “under wrap” from the public until the opening.
“The building has been there for so long,” he said of the 67-story building that was unfinished for a decade. “We really want to make a splash in the market.”
The commission’s ruling follows a recommendation from the Nevada Gaming Control Board on Nov. 1. Soffer and Fontainebleau Development CEO Brett Mufson were found suitable to operate in Nevada by state gaming regulators in July.
Fontainebleau officials estimate that the resort’s development costs exceed $3.7 billion, which includes $2.2 billion in construction financing the developers obtained in December 2022.
The property was roughly 70 percent complete when it lost its funding in June 2009, and Soffer walked away. Over the next dozen years, the unfinished building was bought by two different ownership groups, including corporate raider Carl Icahn and New York developer Steve Witkoff, who planned to rename the building The Drew. That development stalled due to the pandemic.
The Fontainebleau saw little progress until Soffer reacquired the property in partnership with Koch Real Estate Investments in 2021 with plans to complete the property, long considered a linchpin in boosting business prospects on the north end of the Strip.
Fontainebleau is expected to employ 7,100 workers, although Tricano said 6,500 people will be in place by the Dec. 13 opening.
In September, the resort’s operators reached an agreement with Culinary Workers Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165 on a card check neutrality agreement, which allows much of the property’s non-gaming workforce to decide whether they want union representation without interference from the business.
Fontainebleau will have a 150,000-square-foot casino with 1,300 slot machines and 128 table games and spaces for 36 restaurants. The casino will include more than 18,000 square feet of high-limit gaming spaces, including a slot area with 105 games and a private gaming salon with three table games — blackjack, baccarat and European roulette.
Red Rock Resorts was also licensed to provide the technology platform, oddsmaking services, and risk management to operate Fontainebleau’s 14,000-square-foot race and sportsbook. However, the location will not carry the STN Sports brand and the staff will be Fontainebleau employees.
Fontainebleau will also have a poolside gaming area.
Fontainebleau’s hotel tower contains 3,644 rooms and suites. Unlike other Strip operators that partner with hotel companies such as Hilton and Marriott, Fontainebleau Development will solely operate the hotel.
Situated on 25 acres, Fontainebleau is using every available square foot of land. The 6.5-acre outdoor pool deck sits atop low-rise portions of the building. The space has seven pool areas and an outdoor terrace for special events.
The 550,000-square-foot conference center is located three levels above the hotel-casino’s parking garage. Fontainebleau officials hope to eventually build a connection linking the property to the West Hall of the neighboring Las Vegas Convention Center. The West Hall didn’t exist in 2009 when construction halted.
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