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Gaming Guru

Norm Clarke
 

Wynn takes swipe at Vegas competitors

4 June 2010

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- After his recent declarations about the carnival-like "degradation" of the Las Vegas Strip, hotel developer Steve Wynn is naming names. And he's blaming CityCenter for dragging down room rates.

"What the hell is going on with the Fontainebleau ?" he said in an interview with KVBC-TV, Channel 3's Alicia Jacobs.

"What the hell is that? What the hell is a Cosmopolitan? ... What the hell is that? What brain does those things? And it goes on and on. I can keep going. (But) I'm not here to criticize my competitors. Just things have been done here that defies common sense under any scenario."

Wynn is critical of President Barack Obama, Nevada politicians, competitors and the direction Las Vegas is heading. Last week he called a timeout in his feud with R-J columnist John L. Smith to declare how proud he was of his remake of the former Desert Inn property, gushing that it was fully completed. "It's gorgeous. And it's all done in good taste."

Which is more than he could say about some competitors.

In his interview with Jacobs, Wynn reiterated that. "This is the first time I've ever worried about Las Vegas because of the kinds of decisions being made that have brought it to where it is today, and the lack of experience I see in the management of the companies that have led us so often to a point where the future of Las Vegas is being questioned by some people."

Asked by Jacobs if anything can be done about it, Wynn said, "Not Steve Wynn. ... The government maybe. The politicians and maybe the other owners if they've got enough money, not if they're going broke. Not if the company is being run by dimwits."

Convention numbers "are showing up, starting in late August, September," said Wynn, but there has not been a big resurgence in room rates.

"They're still below what it takes to make money here. The real benefit of this resurgence would have been real and would have been felt much more positive, if it were not for the fact that CityCenter added 6,500 rooms right at the moment we might have gotten a little traction. CityCenter has by and large blunted the effects of that improvement, and that's why you see these terribly low room rates that don't allow the companies to really pay their debt. They're living on borrowed money."

Alan Feldman, vice president of communications for CityCenter parent MGM Mirage, e-mailed: "I'm sure the economy has little to do with it."

Wynn's swipe at the Fontainebleau was a reference to its unfinished state, since its Miami-based owners declared bankruptcy last year. Corporate raider Carl Icahn bought the property for about $160 million after $2 billion was poured into the hotel .

Less clear is Wynn's criticism of the $3.9 billion Cosmopolitan, whose two 50-story towers will open this year.