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Benjamin Spillman

 

Trump, Wynn silent about possible casino

3 Nov 2006

By Benjamin Spillman

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- They may be the two biggest egos in gaming, but neither Donald Trump nor Steve Wynn is ready to boast about a possible Atlantic City casino deal.

Both men declined a chance to comment Thursday on reports they're potential partners in a $3 billion plan to replace the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino.

Wynn didn't come to the phone, and a representative said he'd have nothing to say about a possible pact.

Trump talked freely about how he and Wynn have broken bread after a bitter legal and personal feud but was coy about whether they were ready to split the bill on a swanky new Boardwalk resort.

"I can't speak about any potential deal," Trump said Thursday. "It is far too early, far too premature."

The Press of Atlantic City reported Wednesday that the former rivals plan to partner on a deal that would bring Wynn back to the New Jersey shore more than a decade after Wynn bailed out of Garden State gaming because he didn't like the market's intense regulatory climate.

Separately, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in Wednesday's editions that Atlantic City bigwigs Wallace Barr, the former CEO of Caesars Entertainment, and Curtis Bashaw, a former head of the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, were to close on a deal Wednesday to buy 11 acres of Boardwalk property for a new casino.

Although he wouldn't talk about a possible complementary casino coupling, Trump repeated that he and Wynn have long-since ended a feud that included legal wrangling, allegations of espionage and Wynn shedding crocodile tears in 1996 when he told a radio audience, "I don't think the Donald likes me."

Since those dark days, the two men have grown close enough to move past the lawsuits and radio shouts to become good friends, Trump said.

"We've been friends for a long time. We only had a bad patch for a short time," he said.

The billionaire buddies were close enough to take in Game 7 of baseball's National League Championship Series together where they discussed more than the New York Mets' shaky pitching, according to Global Gaming Business magazine.

The magazine said the sight of Wynn and Trump at the game is what triggered the latest round of speculation they were hatching an Atlantic City deal.

Trump was willing to confirm Wynn is, "a fantastic guy," and Atlantic City is, "an amazing place," but as for a pending deal: "I just can't speak of any transaction with Steve."

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