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Gaming Guru

Steve Sebelius
 

Bad! That's a bad Macau!

19 October 2015

Turns out, Steve Wynn should have been more scared of the Chinese all along.

The casino mogul unloaded on a conference call with analysts last week, complaining he can't properly plan for the opening of his new $4 billion Macau casino known as the Wynn Palace. In part, the delays have to do with a limit on the number of table games the casino will be allowed.

Wynn called the process "outrageous and ridiculous," and "the most ludicrous decision that I've seen in my 45 years of experience," according to the Review-Journal's Howard Stutz.

"The reason these extraordinary nongaming attractions [in his new resort] exist is because the damn casino is the cash register," Wynn exclaimed at one point.

Is this the same Steve Wynn who has had nothing but praise for China since he opened the Wynn Macau in 2006?

In a 2014 profile in Success magazine, Wynn said, "for the people who've been allowed to participate in Macau, it's the greatest single business opportunity that's been given in the last 100 years in any industry on Earth. We're just grateful to have been chosen."

Wynn said in 2010 he might move his corporate headquarters from the Las Vegas Strip to Macau.

He's even justified China's totalitarian government. He was quoted in January by Las Vegas Weekly's Steve Friess saying, "I've met Chinese people by the thousands and they're happy." And he told CNBC last year that "if you ask any Chinese businessman, or even the working folks, 'Do you trust the central government? They'll say 'yes.'"

"The average person in China doesn't feel separated from the government and is satisfied," Wynn added.

In fact, Wynn said in that CNBC interview that "I'm more scared about the United States than I am about China," adding later that, "the regulatory burden in China is infinitesimal compared to the crap we get in America."

Really? But in America, there are no smoking regulations on casino floors; the government's criminal prosecutors help casino owners collect from deadbeat gamblers; and there's no limit on the number of table games for unrestricted gambling licensees such as Wynn.

So why would Wynn be publicly sympathetic to Chinese authorities, while going on TV in his own country and using his (made in America!) First Amendment rights to bag on President Barack Obama? He told Jon Ralston in a television interview in 2012 that "I'm afraid of the president. I have no idea what goofy idea, what crazy, anti-business program this administration will come up with. I have no idea. And I have to tell you, Jon, that every business guy I know in the country is frightened of Barack Obama and the way he thinks."

It's true, Obama did pass a law to try to expand access to health care insurance for all Americans. But he's never come for our guns or our gambling tables, has he?

It must be said that Wynn deserves some sympathy here. If anybody knows how to run beautiful, well-designed, profit-making casinos, it's Steve Wynn. The government of Macau would do well to leave Wynn the hell alone to make as much money as possible, while they sit back and count the tax dollars. And while Wynn is known to be obstreperous when he doesn't get his way with governments, he's not making an unfair complaint this time.

But Wynn's sweet words of praise for the Chinese government have certainly turned sour in his mouth now, as he's experiencing what it's like to deal with real central state planners. Turns out, America isn't so bad after all.