Wynn: Erase limits

Mar 29, 2005 9:16 AM

Steve Wynn wants the betting restrictions lifted for private gambling salons that require players to place $500 minimum bets with credit lines or cash of at least $500,000.

"If anyone can give me a bona fide reason for a minimum bet amount, I would like to hear it," Wynn says.

Wynn added that a betting minimum isn’t the way to treat the biggest of big time gamblers who want to enjoy Las Vegas while spending or risking millions of dollars.

Wynn is not the first resort executive to argue for a change in the betting limits at the private salons approved two years ago by Nevada regulators.

But Wynn, whose $2.7 billion Wynn Las Vegas resort will open its doors April 28, is the first executive to push the issue so publicly.

Wynn was speaking before members of the Nevada Gaming Commission when he made this push. He later argued that customers who can afford to put up the required credit lines or cash are often inclined to vary their bets — going from, perhaps, a wager of $200,000 to wagers of a few hundred or a few thousand dollars.

He said the player may also have people in his entourage who might gamble much less than the VIP guest.

Wynn noted that some casinos outside the U.S. that cater to so-called whales — the highest of the high rollers —are often located in areas that have serious security issues, so privacy is a much more serious concern than it might be in Las Vegas.

Gaming Commission member Art Marshall gave Wynn’s argument his endorsement, saying he thinks a change is called for.

MGM Mirage executives have previously argued that the no-strings-attached availability of private gambling can be a powerful marketing tool for reaching desirable customers (public figures of one kind or another) who may not want their casino play open to public viewing.

It’s unreasonable, MGM bosses have argued, to put restrictions and qualifications on a marketing tool such as the private salons.


Elaine Wynn was talking about the process that led to the purchase of the Desert Inn property in 2000 and the subsequent creation of the $2.7 billion resort that is Wynn Las Vegas.

"The idea for using the Desert Inn was purely Steve’s," she says. "He has coveted this property for a very long time. Even when we were at Mirage Resorts he followed with great interest the twists and turns of events involving that piece of real estate. He would always comment to me about what a great site that was and how a lot of people just did not appreciate the true value of that location.

"At the time he was saying these things he was never able to act on his feelings because we had our hands full with what we were doing," she continues. "So, I suppose it was destiny in the sense of timing, that the sale of Mirage Resorts (coincided with the Desert Inn becoming) available."

Even before the sale of Mirage Resorts, Steve Wynn was contemplating his next project, even though he had no notion of the size and scope of what it would encompass.

"At the time the wheels were in motion for changes (at Mirage), Steve was already moving ahead with thinking about what he might want to do. In terms of this being our next project.

"The thing that Steve loves the most is the process (of creating)," she says. "He would savor the time he could devote to developing a feel for the property, to sensing the direction in which he wanted to go. The whole design and development period is when he is in ecstasy."

With so much energy devoted to creating the property, the actual opening is almost an afterthought, Elaine Wynn said.

"If he never had to open a property it would probably make him very happy," she says with a laugh, "and that is really kind of ironic because I think he is such a wonderful operator.

"But he truly does love the art of it, and so I never thought this would be quick. I was hoping that whatever he did next would get us back into action quickly. I’m the action junkie. I had no illusions that Steve would do anything except just sit down with his coloring book and just take his time."