For Steve Wynn, Maryland visit rekindled memories of youth

Dec 3, 2002 3:57 AM

   Thomas Wolfe may have said you can’t go home again but that hasn’t stopped Steve Wynn from trying.

   Late last month, Wynn visited his old Maryland stomping grounds to see if he could detect any interest in a Las Vegas-styled casino, one that might not rival his prior projects, such as the Bellagio or the Mirage, but certainly could be relied upon to attract both gamblers and upscale vacationers.

   Neither he nor his associates are saying much about the trip but it was acknowledged that he met with a couple of high-ranking politicians who are expected to have leadership positions in the new legislature. An effort to meet with Gov.-elect Robert Ehrlich, Jr., was rebuffed because of the potential for conflict of interest.

   Wynn’s visit followed the state’s recent election of Ehrlich who is on record as favoring slots at racetracks as a means of helping to raise money to offset projected budget shortfalls. However, he already has said he would not go beyond the racetrack slots, drawing the line at the suggestion of casino gaming.

   For Wynn, the trip had to rekindle memories of his early days when his father operated a bingo parlor in Wayson’s Corner, Md. After his father’s death, Steve Wynn took over the operation and used it as a steppingstone to a gaming career.

   During his visit to legislators, Wynn was accompanied by Ed Wayson, now a Annapolis lobbyist but whose family jointly operated the Anne Arundel bingo parlor with the Wynns.

   While chatting with Senate President Mike Miller, Wynn spoke of his Maryland days, noting that he once lived in a garden apartment in Landover.

   It has been generally agreed that for Wynn to become part of the gaming scene in Maryland, he would have to buy a racetrack. That might be difficult since Joe De Francis recently sold a majority interest in both Pimlico and Laurel to Frank Stronach’s Magna Entertainment Corp. (MIEF).

   However, no one would be surprised if somehow Stronach, whose expertise is primarily horse racing, and Wynn, with his gaming experience, found an accommodation to develop a future together.