Steve Wynn hangs out ‘Help Wanted’ sign

May 28, 2002 7:43 AM
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Three former Bellagio executives are heading up Steve Wynn’s management team at Le Reve.

Marc Schorr is president of the much-anticipated megaresort to be built on the site of the old Desert Inn.

John Strzemp is executive vice president and chief financial officer.

Rob Oseland is vice president and chief operating officer.

Each exec has worked with Wynn before. Schorr is the former president of the Bellagio. Strzemp (the "z" is silent) was a financial boss there. And Oseland was VP for slots.

But the old school tie may not extend much further. As Wynn fills out his executive suites, he may be looking elsewhere, insiders say.

"Bobby Baldwin is making so much money (at MGM Mirage) that he’ll never leave,’’ one source told GamingToday. Baldwin, a world-class poker player and Wynn protégé, is president of the Mirage resort group.

Barry Shier, the former chief of Mirage’s Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Miss., left when Wynn sold out to MGM. And sources say he’s happy in semi-retirement. Scores of other top managers say privately that they wouldn’t want to go back to work for the mercurial and tempestuous Wynn.

"Steve goes through people,’’ said one who witnessed the casino mogul’s six-hour-long tirade over the operation of the Golden Nugget buffet. That high-decibel rant triggered the departure of at least one key executive to a Downtown competitor.

"He’s a hard man, but he can also make you feel good. You can be a billion-dollar person one day and worth 10 cents in Confederate money the next,’’ shrugs another Wynn alum.

If there’s one sure prediction about future hires at Le Reve and Wynn Resorts, it’s that they will be unpredictable.

Unlike many corporate chieftains enamored of Ivy League pedigrees, Wynn doesn’t work off any one template for background and experience. Schorr, for example, started as a junket rep in Atlantic City. Oseland, who began with a community college degree and later completed his studies at UNLV, had a short stint at Boulder Station before returning to the Wynn fold.

Wynn was not available and Oseland, who returned a phone call, declined to comment. State investigator Patrick Wynn (no relation) confirmed that gaming control had received no applications for licensing from Le Reve or Wynn Resorts as of last week.

But Marc Weiswasser, director of the recruiting firm Navegante Search, said the casino magnate has a "deep pool" to fish in.

"Staffing will be a non-issue for him. Everyone wants to be involved in a new project, and this is one of the biggest ever,’’ he said.

But Weiswasser adds that upper management at the Strip’s Big Four (MGM Mirage, Harrah’s, Mandalay and Park Place) "is more entrenched with more properties nationally and worldwide.’’

Others note that Wynn needs financing before he gets too far down the hiring line.

"What executive would leave a steady job when the financing isn’t in place yet?’’ asks one corporate strategist. "The fact that he changed course on the IPO suggests there may still be problems.’’

Such speculation has been fueled by a series of delays in groundbreaking. Once scheduled for this month, dirt may not even fly in June, though Oseland assures that "We’re just inches away.’’

Wynn got some good news this spring when partner Aruze Corp. was cleared of financial misdealings in Tokyo. The Pachinko maker, the world’s second largest manufacturer of gaming equipment, has pledged $260 million to Le Reve.

The Aruze news should also shore up Wynn’s bid to open a casino in Macau, analysts say.

Shannon Bybee, director of UNLV’s International Gaming Institute, calls Wynn "a global guy’’ who will be both creative and aggressive in recruiting casino talent.

Bybee, who once worked for Wynn, suggested that a few more executives may come over from MGM Mirage. Others point to The Venetian and the Aladdin as prime head-hunting grounds for execs looking to move up from manager to director positions.

Sources tell GamingToday that Richard Amalfitano, vice president of table games at Strzemp’s alma mater Treasure Island, could be ready for a move. Amalfitano did not return phone calls.

Former Aladdin boss Richard Goeglein’s name has also popped up. But Goeglein said that while he was "flattered" by the rumor, "I can’t imagine doing that." The Summerlin resident and his wife recently launched a non-gaming hotel company, Evening Star Hospitality LLC.

Insiders say one big gamer ”” Park Place ”” isn’t likely to get much attention from Wynn. "It’s not highly thought of,’’ said the source. Still, in the wake of heavy turnover under Park Place chief Tom Gallagher, the smart money says many more dominoes are yet to fall on the Strip.