Wynn’s Thoughts on Internet Gaming: ‘Not Much’

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Casino operator Steve Wynn used his Tuesday afternoon keynote address at the Global Gaming Expo to clearly state his position on legalized Internet wagering.

When answering an audience question, read by American Gaming Association President Geoff Freeman, that sought his thoughts on Internet gaming, the chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts Ltd. was succinct.

“Not much,” Wynn said quickly, adding that he “shares Sheldon Adelson’s conviction” against Internet gaming. Adelson, the chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corp., is spending millions to lobby against legal online gaming expansion.

Wynn said his advisors told him his company needed “to spend $30 or $40 million” to establish an Internet gaming presence “or be left behind.”

Wynn told the audience he didn’t see the profit in Internet gaming in the U.S. currently and worried that a public relations crisis surrounding the activity would “invite additional regulation or oversight for land-based gambling.”

Wynn also praised his “good friend” Adelson, calling him a “swashbuckling entrepreneur.”

Wynn spent 40 minutes addressing the G2E audience at the Sands Expo and Convention Center, sharing his history in developing casino-resorts in Las Vegas. Wynn said he developed the Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas after realizing Fremont Street was nothing more than “a carnival midway with slot machines and free shrimp cocktails.”

Subsequent resorts that he built — The Mirage, Bellagio, Wynn Las Vegas and Encore — all set a higher bar for casino development and carried a similar trend. Nongaming revenue surpassed gaming revenue.

“We started putting things in front of the building that didn’t have a cash register in front of them,” Wynn said.

Last month, Wynn Resorts was awarded the sole gaming license in the Boston area to build a $1.6 billion hotel-casino in the town of Everett. Wynn told the G2E crowd he became interested in Massachusetts because he could recreate a version of the grand hotel.

“The age of the grand hotel has past,” Wynn said. “But Massachusetts offered an unusual moment. A chance to build a grand hotel again.”

He said the property would have a “little casino that pays for the whole development.”

(c) 2014, Stephens Media LLC

- Howard Stutz covers the gaming industry for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and writes the Inside Gaming column for the LVRJ. His work appears on OnlinePokerReport via syndication with the Stephens Media GamingWire.
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