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No way the Steve Wynn wedding could stay private

May 3, 2011 6:09 AM

Las Vegas casino events come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they are not even called events.

Which brings us to last week’s marriage of Steve Wynn who needs no introduction, to Andrea Hissom, a woman most of Las Vegas may never know as well as it did former wife Elaine Wynn.

What successful casino events all have in common is their ability to attract people with money to spend, who will probably do exactly that in their pursuit of a good time.

We should not expect the Wynn-Encore operators to say anything about how the slot drop and table game volumes benefited from the several nights of spirited partying and high living associated with the wedding. No one expects dozens, perhaps hundreds of millionaires and billionaires to spend multiple nights at a high end resort and satisfy their appetites for good times with room service hamburgers and nickel slots – not that the Wynn and Encore casinos necessarily have any of the latter.

When Wynn summoned the Las Vegas press to announce his wedding to Hissom would be kind of low key and he hoped to keep it kind of private – you know, not turn it into a spectacle – the first thought to skip across my mind was, huh?

Who was he kidding?

And by the way, the best man, Steve announced days before the ceremony, would be actor Clint Eastwood.

Can’t you imagine gossip columnists everywhere heaving disappointed sighs, saying what do we care about getting close to this thing?

None of the uninvited guests who I quizzed for their thoughts on the spec – I mean quiet, low-key ceremony and the not so low key events surrounding the actual marriage, saw it as anything other than a casino event. And that’s ok.

Nothing wrong with getting married in a casino, particularly when the groom owns it and the list of invited guests includes hundreds of people accustomed to lavishing their spending power on the best that life has to offer.

If Wynn really wanted to minimize the attention his second marriage was receiving, it would have been easy enough to get the job done in Macau, which really does not need the extra business, maybe even Monaco where he has been given citizenship.

Some place in England last week would have provided adequate cover for a reasonably low key event since there was another not so low key marriage getting all the headlines.

But Las Vegas marketing strategists have always been quick to embrace any good reason for a big party, all in the name of giving visitors a good reason to spend, spend, spend. Wynn’s creativity over the years in this regard has been unsurpassed. He knows how to make deep-pocketed visitors feel at home.

 Las Vegas is a place where both casino events and marriage ceremonies have occasionally been stretched into shapes and works of pop art that may not be found anywhere else.

Where else can you get married with a drive-thru ceremony as an Elvis look-alike provides the music? How Vegas can you be?

Wynn may have recognized the appeal of such imagery when he, Hissom and a supporting film crew adjourned their planning to one of the Las Vegas Boulevard wedding chapels where he donned an Elvis-style outfit for a gag video that was quickly leaked by parties unknown to the celebrity chasers at TMZ and elsewhere who made it a prime time Internet hit.

Wynn grumbled and growled about this breach of security but appeared to quickly shrug it off.

Does whatever happens in Las Vegas actually stay in Las Vegas?

Thank goodness, no. The power of the Internet and imagination have combined to turn the selling of big Vegas-style experiences into so much child’s play.

It’s a formula that Wynn and a few others have mastered.

The Pansy Thing

I’m wondering again if MGM Resorts officials wish they could revisit last year’s decision to dispose of their Atlantic City property rather than fight the regulatory opposition to Pansy Ho as the company’s Macau partner.

Recent news stories say the Hong Kong Stock Exchange want to ask more questions, questions that mean delays, some of them having to do with the opposition of New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement to Stanley Ho’s daughter as MGM’s Macau partner.

The partnership has one casino operating in the central Macau area and plans for a second on the Cotai area. A proposed IPO that is to be traded on the Hong Kong Exchange appears to be months behind initial schedules of last year.

Everything will probably work out eventually, but the reality is that every new jurisdiction where MGM hopes to do business will probably want to have its own chance to ask all the usual tough questions about why New Jersey found Pansy Ho lacking as MGM’s partner.

Regulators want to regulate. It’s the way of the world. They are usually not inclined to shrug and walk away from the chance to ask questions.

Unofficial New Jersey sources familiar with the work of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission – before it was stripped of most of its powers – have maintained that the company could have retained its standing there. That was a conclusion based on the fact MGM officials responsible for the Macau joint venture agreement had long since left the company.

MGM’s decision to leave New Jersey and sell its half interest in the Borgata may have been based on a decision that it wanted to follow the money and that meant pouring all its energies into Macau and luxury hotel developments on mainland China and other areas of the Pacific Rim.

If only MGM could have known then how much it did not know about the shape of things to come.

Considering how Gov. Chris Christie has turned into something of a lap dog for gaming industry interests, it’s easy to believe he would have eventually found a way to get MGM whatever it wanted.

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But timing is everything, as gaming executives have learned to their chagrin ovee the last several years of the Great Recession.