Wynn says he’ll begin Le Reve construction this week

May 21, 2002 7:05 AM
by

share

The much-anticipated Steve Wynn project — Le Reve (The Dream) ”” gets underway this week with a groundbreaking ceremony for the $1.6 billion destination resort.

Wynn, developer of the Las Vegas Strip’s premier properties, Bellagio, the Mirage and Treasure Island, told a national audience on CNBC Monday that after 18 months of planning he was prepared to begin construction on the site of the former Desert Inn.

However, he was not specific on the actual date for the groundbreaking, nor did he explain what arrangements he had concluded to provide the necessary founding. He did say that construction would take about 18 months and that he planned to open the facility on Thanksgiving Day, 2003.

Joining Wynn in the "Power Lunch" discussion with CNBC host Bill Griffeth, was Anthony Deering, head honcho at Rouse & Co., the retail developer that is responsible for the expansion of Fashion Show Mall.

Deering noted that the expanded Fashion Show Mall, located directly across the street from Le Reve, will be the only retail location in the U.S. that will have eight fashion stores under one roof. The first phase of the expansion, he said, would be completed by Nov. 1 and will consist of two million square feet of retail space. The second phase will be completed in 2003. He said the project should generate $1 billion in sales per year.

As for Le Reve, Wynn said there was confusion on the part of observers who failed to understand that "it takes about 18 months to dream up a destination resort from scratch." In total, he said, such a project takes "about four years”¦just like a college education."

Griffeth asked just how long Las Vegas can continue to grow, in light of its remarkable growth through the 1990s. Wynn replied that the secret for continued successful growth was the "quality level" of the new properties. "The danger is that one copies another," he said.

"So long as it is fanciful ”¦ something new to give another reason for people to come, Las Vegas will be successful," Wynn said.

Wynn also lauded Deering and his company for taking the retail outlet to another level. He said that the expanded Fashion Show Mall would be adding fashion shows and continuous entertainment to make it a "value-added" facility.

Youbet.com

Youbet.com Inc. (UBET), the country’s leading online wagering company, was notified Monday that its stock would be deleted from a Nasdaq listing.

Two months ago, the company was warned that it would face the consequences if the shares did not trade on the Nasdaq National Market with a minimum bid price of at least $1.00 for 10 consecutive trading days prior to May 15.

The stock has failed to meet that requirement. On Monday, the shares closed at $0.88

The decision comes at an unfortunate time for the company, according to David Marshall, company CEO. The company has just concluded "co-marketing deals with Churchill Downs and Maryland Jockey Club," and recent business activities had indicated that "Youbet is making important strides aimed at increasing the company’s strength and viability."

Youbet.com said it had requested a hearing before a Nasdaq Listing Qualifications Panel to review the determination.

Mandalay to report

Mandalay Resort Group Inc. (MBG), whose fiscal quarter ended on April 30, will report the results of that period on Thursday, March 23.

The company, through a spokesman, has indicated that it was comfortable with analysts expectations. According to First Call, with 15 analysts involved, the average earnings expectation is $0.68. During the comparable period a year ago, the company reported earnings of $0.61 a share.

On Monday, the company’s shares fell $0.47 a share to $34.29 with only light volume of 264,100 shares changing hands.

Ruffin setback

Efforts by Phil Ruffin, owner of the New Frontier Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas, and others to get Kansas approval for slot machines at his two dog tracks, failed last week. But, once again there was hope that the outcome would be different next year.

At least, the proponents were rewarded when the House approved the bill and sent it to the Senate, albeit at a late date in the session. Although backers felt there was enough time to get it to the floor for a vote, the Senate adjourned its longest session in Kansas history without acting on the proposal.

Kansas Gov. Bill Graves, who would have signed a slot bill, blamed the House members for taking too much time attempting to get "the perfect bill." Strategically, he said, it was a tremendous mistake."

Ruffin owns Wichita Greyhound Park and Camptown Greyhound Park.

Appeal planned

Park Place Entertainment Corp. (PPE) plans to appeal a recent judgment that awarded $25.2 million in a class-action suit involving a viral outbreak in 1996 at the Reno Hilton that left hundreds of guests and employees ill.

Estimates indicated that as many as 600 guests and 300 employees developed nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps that allegedly were caused by a virus transmitted through contaminated food.

Charges were made that some Reno Hilton supervisors and managers knew that their employees were ill but did not send them home.

York, Me., votes

Indications were that a close vote would identify the feelings of the people of York, Maine, relative to locating a casino in their community. But that wasn’t the case. When the votes cast on Saturday were tabulated, the casino opponents easily outnumbered those in favor by a vote of 3,057 to 767.

This was the second Maine town to express its feelings on the casino issue. Previously, voters in Berwick opposed casino gambling by a vote of 302-172. The towns of Eliot, North Berwick, Wells and Kittery are planning to poll their residents on the casino issue.

Riverboat skeptics

Privately-held Delaware North Companies has shelled out $80 million at a court-approved auction to acquire three riverboats owned by the bankrupt American Classic Voyages Inc.

Ron Sultemeier, spokesman for the Jacobs Family of Buffalo, N.Y., said the boats would continue to be used for overnight cruises and would not be converted into casinos.

"They are not gaming boats nor are there plans to use them as gaming boats," Sultemeier said.

But, not all observers agreed. Said one, "They didn’t pay $80 million to continue doing what pushed the previous owner into bankruptcy. They already have a mini-casino at Wheeling Downs in West Virginia and transforming any of these boats into a riverboat casino would not be a big surprise."

Indiana scandal

Accusations that some company executives provided prostitutes for high-rollers have placed the license of Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. (PNK) in jeopardy. But, Indiana gaming officials have indicated that they would like to settle the allegations with fines and probation and not with a revocation of license.

Involved is Indiana’s newest licensed riverboat, the Belterra in Vevay, Ind., about 35 miles southwest of Cincinnati. The Indiana Gaming Commission began an investigation following allegations from two former employees that they were fired or demoted when they refused to entertain customers.

According to regulators, a Pinnacle Entertainment executive transported prostitutes from California on his private plane to Indiana so they could entertain high rollers at a golf outing. A newspaper said the executive was R.D. Hubbard, company chairman who recently resigned. Also departing the company was CEO Paul Alanis.

Both Alanis and Hubbard were replaced by Dan Lee, former CFO of Mirage Resorts Inc. under Steve Wynn.

The newspaper said the company had offered to pay a $1 million fine but a commission representative said that was rejected and a more severe fine was contemplated.