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Gaming Guru

Jeff Simpson
 

Landry's in Hot Water With Wynn

31 October 2005

Restaurant king Tilman Fertitta must be feeling some indigestion about one of his first moves in charge of the Golden Nuggets in Las Vegas and Laughlin.

Fertitta's Landry's Restaurants bought the properties last month.

In court filings last week, Wynn Las Vegas lawyers asked for and received a temporary restraining order prohibiting former Wynn table-game shift manager Frank Toddre from taking a job as the Golden Nugget Laughlin's general manager.

According to the documents, Toddre had asked Wynn executives to be released from his three-year contract at the $2.7 billion resort, but was refused. Toddre then gave two weeks' notice on Sept. 10, and his last day at Wynn was Sept. 24.

But instead of retiring, as he told the Wynn bosses he was doing, Toddre immediately took the job at the helm of the Golden Nugget Laughlin, which Wynn court documents claim violates the terms of a noncompete agreement that is part of Toddre's Wynn Las Vegas contract.

Wynn Las Vegas President Andrew Pascal's affidavit makes clear his company's irritation with Toddre and with Landry's Golden Nugget.

"The defendants have not acted honorably thus far, and I have no reason to believe they will do so in the future," Pascal wrote.

Caught in the middle of the conflict between Wynn and Landry's is former Golden Nugget Las Vegas President Maurice Wooden, who signed a separation agreement with and received a payment from the property in March.

Wynn wanted to hire Wooden as the Wynn Las Vegas food and beverage manager and had reached a deal with Golden Nugget that would enable Wooden to pay back $175,000, some of the cash he'd received for the separation agreement, in exchange for Golden Nugget waiving provisions of a noncompete agreement that was also a part of Wooden's March deal.

Pascal's affidavit charges that Golden Nugget lawyers inserted a provision into a Wooden agreement negotiated with Wynn that would have released Toddre from his noncompete obligation to Wynn Las Vegas.

"I am informed and believe that this provision had never been discussed or negotiated between Wynn and Landry's representatives," Pascal wrote.

Wynn has refused to sign the changed deal, and thus has not hired Wooden.

A hearing is scheduled in two weeks on Wynn's lawsuits against Toddre and Landry's casinos in Clark County District Court, Wynn lawyer Marc Rubenstein said. Fertitta, Toddre and Landry's executives did not return phone calls.

•••

Count MGM Mirage boss Terry Lanni as one of the biggest boosters of the Las Vegas Monorail.

"We're in favor of anything that reduces vehicle traffic along the Strip," said Lanni, MGM's chairman and chief executive. He said that the company's MGM Grand has benefited tremendously from the monorail, with increased foot-traffic passing through its retail outlets and into its giant casino. "It's been absolutely fabulous."

In fact, Lanni would like to see the monorail extended from the MGM to McCarran International Airport, and eventually wants another monorail line extending to the west side of the Strip, where almost all of his company's resorts are.

He cited a recent visit to Las Vegas by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Lanni said McCain told him he was frustrated about having had to wait 55 minutes at McCarran to get a taxi.

Long waits at the airport detract from visitors' experiences, and Lanni said a McCarran monorail extension would alleviate the problem -- and wouldn't hurt the taxi business as much as drivers seem to think.

"With some of the people taking the monorail, there'd be less congestion at McCarran, and the drivers would have shorter waits and get more trips," he said. "There'd be plenty of business left for the taxis -- a lot of people just aren't going to ride a monorail."

Landry's in Hot Water With Wynn is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.