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Wynn, the “Dreamer-in-Chief” of American gaming, has transformed the industry

n the casino universe, names mean everything. Take Steve Wynn, who wants to return to the East Coast after 23 years to assume a 51 percent ownership stake in the stalled Foxwoods casino project in my hometown of Philadelphia. The

original investors would hold a minority status. Since 2006, intense neighborhood and political

opposition has derailed potential plans and sites. Last August, Pennsylvania state regulators ordered Foxwoods back to its original location with a deadline. The board has maintained a daily $2,000 fine – totaling close to $200,000 as of press time – for the delay in providing financing, design and construction information. During the February Pennsylvania Gaming

conference, word of Wynn’s potential generated excitement for the “star power” he could bring. Pennsylvania’s gaming officials delayed a revocation of Foxwoods license in early March, offering Wynn the opportunity to present his $600 million casino plan. The billionaire and CEO/chairman of Wynn Resorts Ltd. then had to submit finance plans by March 31 and construction/design details by April 26. Wynn, the “Dreamer-in-Chief” of American gaming,

has transformed the industry. From his 1989 debut of the Mirage and its volcano, to the elegant Bellagio and, most recently, the classy Wynn and Encore properties, Wynn has repeatedly translated vision into success. Wynn Resorts ranks tops among large hotel-casino

operators. Recognizing his talents again this year, Fortune magazine named Wynn Resorts as fourth in the overall hotel casino and resort category, but first among casino operators. The company ranked second in the hotel, casino and resort category for innovation, and third for people management, quality of management, products and services. Another big name, power broker Donald Trump, is

currently battling big name casino takeover specialist, billionaire Carl Icahn and Icahn’s billionaire banking partner, Andy Beal. Their court battle will determine the rights to the three Atlantic City Trump properties. Icahn and Beal’s group owns a majority of Trump

Entertainment’s $486 million mortgage under Beal Bank. Their plan would transform the debt into company ownership. The federal bankruptcy judge will decide on a plan to best help Trump Entertainment’s casinos maintain profitability while avoiding a fourth bankruptcy. Down the Boardwalk, Icahn recently purchased the

Tropicana Casino and Resort for $200 million – 80 per cent less than its pre-recession $1 billion price

10 APRIL 2010

Sharon Harris looks at what the ‘big names’ are up to

tag. The deal includes the casino, multiple hotel towers with more than 2,000 rooms and The Quarter, the upscale retail, dining and nightclub complex. The Quarter cost $285 million to build in 2004. Under Icahn, improvements are already underway. Finally, the MGM Mirage name will disappear from

Atlantic City. On March 17, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission (NJCCC) unanimously approved a settlement to force MGM Mirage to sell its 50% ownership stake in the Borgata within 30 months. Gaming analysts estimate MGM’s share in Borgata to be valued at $360 million to $400 million. The action resulted from a New Jersey Division of

Gaming Enforcement (DGE) report that labeled Hong Kong businesswoman Pansy Ho “unsuitable” as an MGM Mirage partner for a Macau casino. The report labeled Ho as a substitute for her father, Stanley Ho, a Macau casino tycoon reputedly tied to Asian organized crime. After a five-year investigation, the DGE contended that MGM Mirage substituted the daughter for the father on the license to gain regulatory approvals. However, other states have chosen to license MGM Mirage, despite its alliance with Ms. Ho. Placed in trust, co-owner Boyd Gaming may opt to

buy the outstanding shares. Another 40 acres of undeveloped land will also be sold. MGM Mirage will remain the owner of 90 acres in Atlantic City, but may consider selling that land in a separate deal. Big names bring big money, but also bring big

issues. In political big name news, here is a follow up to a

former story. Remember President Obama’s famous statement about companies visiting Las Vegas on the taxpayers’ expense? The conflict reignited in early February. Paraphrasing Britney Spears, oops, he did it again. Obama told a group, “You don’t go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don’t blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you’re trying to save for college. You prioritize. You make tough choices.” In a public squabble, several Nevada lawmakers admonished Obama, none more strongly than three-term Democrat, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman. “I’ll do everything I can to give him the boot. This president is a real slow learner,” said Goodman. Goodman refused to greet Obama during a

campaign visit for embattled Senator Harry Reid two weeks later in Las Vegas. Goodman, a former defense attorney for many alleged leading organized crime figures in Las Vegas, apparently doesn’t easily flinch. Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46
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