Wynn’s Encore waits backstage

Oct 4, 2005 6:15 AM

Steve Wynn’s Encore resort project is on hold for the moment as he wrestles with a possible deal that could produce a third theater and another major entertainment project at his $2.6 billion hotel and casino that opened April 28.

Once this issue is resolved in the next couple weeks, he will presumably move forward with the Encore development planned for about 20 acres on the Strip just north of Wynn Las Vegas.

But one thing to keep in mind: Wynn’s been known to change his designing mind on a dime.

In the meantime, don’t look for Wynn to turn his golf course into anything but a golf course any time soon, probably a good two or three years. Wynn believes the Las Vegas market has been changing so rapidly that a lot of careful thought is required to determine the best eventual use of the land.

The shortages at the moment in Las Vegas, he says, include apartments and office space, a thought that seems to imply a belief "Las Vegas has all the condo plans it needs for the moment."

As for the verdant golf course, "It’s our little Central Park," Wynn says.

Why rip up an attraction that provides a marketing edge? It’s probably easier to market an upscale resort overlooking one of the best courses anywhere than it is to market the same resort overlooking high-rise glass and concrete.

But the demands of the fast-changing Las Vegas market will eventually determine what happens with this roughly 130 acres.

Elsewhere around the Wynn empire, he has been told he can move up the opening of Wynn Macau’s first phase about a month to August or September of next year. Still to come are additional amenities, including a parking garage that will be ready several months after the debut of the first phase. The project’s first phase is a 600-room hotel and casino that resembles a smaller version of Wynn Las Vegas built on 16 of 20 available acres.

Wynn says the construction experience there is unlike anything he’s seen before, including the heavy use of concrete throughout the tower. This is expected to result in improved sound-proofing.

Poker pro’s all-in
with new businesses

Daniel Negreanu is one of the world’s best-known poker player, thanks to his superb combination of game-playing skills and a finely tuned sense of public relations.

Negreanu limits his poker playing these days as he has lapsed into a businessman’s role. It’s the consequence of a blossoming array of ventures that have cut into the time available for long hours of the game that made him famous.

Negreanu was the consensus player of the year in 2004 and is currently the "poker ambassador" at the Wynn Las Vegas resort.

But with a widely anticipated video poker game ready for release this month — he has a partnership with MTV to help with the marketing — and the demands of his popular Full Contact Poker on-line web site, there’s not a lot of time for the high-stakes cash games and never-ending line-up of poker tournaments.

Changing times have forced him to adjust his thinking.

"What I tend to do," he says, "is limit myself to the major tournaments and my challenge matches at Wynn."

The challenge matches have seen him take on 10 challengers in heads-up freeze-outs for six-figure sums ranging from a quarter-million to half a million dollars. There’s at least one more scheduled this week, but these things have a way of changing at a moment’s notice.

But his video poker game — it’s being released in all the most popular formats such as Nintendo’s X-Box and Play Station 2 — has been taking all the time he has available.

As for the challenge matches, they are NOT for the timid. He has taken on the best-known pros such as Barry Greenstein, as an example, but that doesn’t mean Negreanu is limiting himself to challenges from the tournament pros whom he knows so well.

"I got a call recently from a woman I had never met before. She wanted to give her husband a nice birthday present, a challenge match against me for five hundred thousand. I thought about that for a moment and decided, yeah, that could be a great present."

Yeah, a nice present for the Player of the Year, probably. No word yet on when the game will be scheduled.