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Steve Wynn's prospects in Singapore, Station Casinos' Plans in Reno and More

3 Oct 2005

By Jeff Simpson, Las Vegas Sun
Steve Wynn exudes a quiet confidence about his company's chances of landing a highly sought-after license to develop a casino in Singapore. Unlike many of his Strip competitors who've been busy touting the convention centers, entertainment partners and scopes of their prospective resorts, Wynn believes the strength of his bid is already on the ground, in Las Vegas and Macau.

The framework of Wynn's $1 billion resort in Macau, on schedule to open Sept. 1, is largely built, and he believes Singapore officials will take note of the quality of his projects, including Wynn Macau, Wynn Las Vegas and the hotels he built and then sold, including Bellagio and the Mirage.

Wynn won't publicly assess his chances of gaining one of the two coveted Singapore slots, and he won't sling mud at his competitors for them. "All of us in the gaming industry are paying close attention to Singapore, and we're enjoying participating in the process," Wynn said.

Wynn has been spending a lot of time in Asia lately, averaging about one visit to Macau every month. The building process is quite amazing, and the resort site itself is cleaner than any he's ever seen. "There's a whole army of women who come in and sweep and clean the construction site every night."

One of the hotels Wynn built and then sold, Beau Rivage, was the only Biloxi, Miss., hotel directly on the Gulf of Mexico to escape near-total destruction. Wynn estimates that he had spent $60 million building a casino barge that would rise and fall with the swells of the sea, lifting the hotel site 20 feet above sea level and putting less important features such as offices and the staff dining room below.

The adjustable ballast on the barge allowed it to withstand an extra 6 feet of swell above the 20 feet, but Hurricane Katrina still swept through the casino -- enough to get the slot machines wet, Wynn said.

"The storm's tidal swell had to be about 30 feet. The money that was invested to make it hurricane-proof seems to have been money well spent."

*****

Only two years ago conventional casino wisdom had it that Reno was a challenged gaming market about to face tough competition from new tribal casinos in California, particularly the Sacramento area's Thunder Valley, operated by Las Vegas locals kingpin Station Casinos.

But where others bailed out on Reno and sold their casinos and gaming-entitled land, Station executives saw opportunity. While Reno gaming revenues were dropping, all the city's other economic indicators were up, said Scott Nielson, Station's chief development officer. And they believed their Las Vegas locals casino model had never been tested in the market.

With no new sizable casinos having opened in the past decade, Station believes it can open a very successful casino on a choice suburban site in about three years, capitalizing on growth and luring customers from existing older properties.

*****

It shouldn't be surprising that Palms owner George Maloof is expected to be the first to capitalize on a new Nevada law that allows casinos to offer gaming in resort areas that charge admission, such as nightclubs. "We introduced the bill (to the Legislature)," Maloof said. He says the new Playboy Club, topping the new Fantasy tower he's about to open, will offer blackjack tables.

About 150 rooms of the 350-room tower are expected to open by the end of October, including a 10,000-square-foot Hardwood Suite with a half basketball court, scoreboard and optional cheerleaders.

Copyright © Las Vegas Sun. Inc. Republished with permission.

 
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