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Gaming Guru

Jeff Simpson
 

Jeff Simpson Says It Would Be A Mistake To Ignore Wynn Resorts As A Player In Japan

8 August 2006

JAPAN -- A lot has been written recently about the potential of Japanese casinos if that government moves to loosen laws that prohibit them.

Las Vegas operators Harrah's Entertainment, Venetian parent Las Vegas Sands and MGM Mirage are the most frequently mentioned as operators who are anxious to tap the market.

But it would be foolish to ignore Wynn Resorts as a potential player in Japan, Chairman Steve Wynn told me.

With Wynn partner Kazuo Okada already established as a dominant player in the Japanese gaming market through his Aruze Corp., a leading manufacturer of pachinko and hybrid pachinko/slot machines called "pachislo" machines, Wynn said he and Okada would definitely make a strong play for the Japanese market.

"We'll be there, hammer and tong," Wynn said.

• • •

Wynn said Macau casino kingpin Stanley Ho is going to be a tough competitor for Wynn Macau. Wynn said he visits Ho every time he goes to Macau and pays his respects to the one-time casino monopoly holder.

"He's glad I'm coming but he's going to give us nothing," Wynn said, noting that Ho is changing the main entrance of his flagship Lisboa casino to face Wynn Macau, slated to open on Sept. 5.

Wynn said he's bringing in a lot of Wynn Las Vegas executives and table games employees to help out with the expected crush of business when the property opens. Extra pit supervisors have also been hired, staff that will come in handy when the Phase Two casino expansion opens in May.

Wynn has also hired the security chief from Hong Kong Disneyland to run the resort's security operation.

• • •

It didn't take casino boss - and budding comedian - Michael Gaughan long to decide what to rename the South Coast after he bought it from Boyd Gaming Corp. The South Point is the new name, and when I talked to him on Friday he had a few quips explaining his selection, necessitated by Boyd Gaming's retention of the Coast brand Gaughan created.

First, there are only three letters that needed to be changed. "It's cheaper," he said.

Another option, Sundance, was already owned by "that actor Redford," Gaughan said.

Others kiddingly told him to name it "Gaughan South."

Gaughan says he expects to use his name with his advertising for the South Point, as in "Michael Gaughan's South Point."

Gaughan expects to gradually grow the property's business and turn its slow opening around. He is going to try some new methods to introduce the South Point to new customers, including hosting concerts in the equestrian arena after improving its acoustics, holding boxing cards in the exhibit hall and improving food and beverage service.

He breaks ground this week on the showroom, a spa will open later this year and another hotel tower will be ready in two years. He's also counting on the soon-to-open Blue Diamond Road/Interstate 15 interchange to help customers get there until the state opens the much closer I-15 interchange with Silverado Ranch Boulevard.

Here's Gaughan's thumbnail assessment of how business at the South Coast is doing right now: Food and beverage: "Needs work." Sports book: "Good." Race book: "Not so good." Bowling: "Huge success." Bingo: "Marginal." Hotel occupancy: "About 90 percent." Average daily room rate: "Not where we want it, probably hurt by gasoline prices." Slots: "Fair, can improve." Table games: "Good, will improve."

Jeff Simpson is business editor of the Las Vegas Sun and executive editor of its sister publication, In Business Las Vegas. He can be reached at 259-4083 or at simpson@lasvegassun.com.