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LAS VEGAS -- As Steve Wynn was preparing Thursday to address the Nevada Gaming Commission at the licensing hearing for his $2.7 billion Wynn Las Vegas, he was overcome by historical perspective.
Wynn first appeared in front of the commission in 1967 when he was 25 years old, and the city's transformation over the past 37 years prompted his remarks to the five-member panel about his thoughts in designing the Strip's first new resort since 2000.
"I had not planned any comments. My style is to go with the flow of the moment," Wynn said after commissioners took less than 90 minutes and voted unanimously to license Wynn and his management team for the resort's planned April 28 opening.
The commission's blessing was the last licensing hurdle for Wynn Las Vegas.
"These men and women were giving regulatory approval to the most expensive, the most complex, the most ambitious structure ever built in the world, including the pyramids of Egypt," Wynn said after the meeting. "We're not talking (just) about Las Vegas, we're talking about everywhere.
"There is no other $2.7 billion hotel. There's no $2.7 billion anything. That's $300 million or $400 million more than Euro Disney cost. And how is such a thing possible? And on top of that, it's done with a balance sheet that's like the Bank of England. It's because of this city. This is a place that, as crazy as Las Vegas is, it's totally unique."
Commissioners had few questions for Wynn and his representatives.
The officials complimented Wynn Resorts Ltd. President Ron Kramer on the company's financial structure after his discussion.
Kramer said the 234 acres Wynn Resorts controls cost $386 million, roughly $1.64 million an acre.
"The market has obviously changed significantly," Kramer said, referring to Strip land now valued at up to $15 million per acre. "We've built a very strong financial foundation."
The acreage includes the land for Wynn Las Vegas, the former Desert Inn Country Club and site of the planned Encore project.
Other than the 50-story curved hotel, covered in bronze glass and white horizontal lines, much of Wynn Las Vegas has been shrouded in secrecy.
Wynn did not offer up too many details about the resort's interior in his 20-minute presentation Thursday.
He said the components of Wynn Las Vegas are the same as at other Strip resorts -- a casino area, restaurants, retail offerings and other public spaces -- except they will be laid out in an unique design.
Wynn said some of his inspiration for the casino's design came from a conversation he had with film director Steven Spielberg. Wynn recalled that Spielberg said that what was exciting to the public 15 years ago would be boring by today's standards.
"It will be a different place than those that have been presented before," Wynn said. "We looked deeper into the essence of our guests and, in doing so, we ended up with a different product, one that exploits a new idea, the idea of discovery."
One aspect that will differ from other casinos is the addition of natural light.
"There isn't any spot in the casino where you don't see natural light and trees," Wynn said. "The building is flooded with natural light because the casino has atriums everywhere. Every restaurant has its own garden and its own stages.
"Between the animation and the pulse of the casino, there is an architectural and emotional pause, a space for guests to reset their clocks emotionally and physically, to be ready for a new experience."
Commissioner Art Marshall, a longtime Las Vegas resident, said he thought Wynn Las Vegas is unlike any other Strip property.
"(Wynn Resorts Chief Operating Officer) Marc Schorr schlepped me for two hours through the facility, and I came away completely impressed," Marshall said before the commission's vote.
Arte Nathan, who oversees human resources, told commissioners that more than 100,000 people applied online for jobs at Wynn Las Vegas. He said 8,600 workers had been offered jobs at the resort, which will employ 9,500 people when it opens.
Nathan said that 60 percent of all job applicant were minorities. Of the jobs tendered, 59 percent of the offers went to minorities, 48 percent went to women, and 40 percent of the perspective employees were over the age of 40.
"We believe that when we open, we will be a company rich in diversity," Nathan said. "It comes not because we worked hard at it. It's because the attraction and the number of people who applied were full of diversity, and we are proud of that."
Commissioner Sue Wager questioned Wynn on the number of female executives at Wynn Las Vegas. Wynn listed several female senior vice presidents and directors.
But he said the board of directors of Wynn Resorts has only one female member, his wife, Elaine.
He used that moment to criticize the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a law enacted after several financial corporate financial mismanagement scandals. It covers publicly traded companies and tightened the rules on the composition and responsibilities of company board members.
Wynn said he offered board positions to two women, but he was turned down because of some of the Sarbanes-Oxley requirements.
"Sarbanes-Oxley represents the most outrageous overreaction," Wynn said. "It is almost impossible to get a legitimate person to be on a board of a public company because of the requirements. It has become a terrible problem for corporate America."
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