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Best of Liz Benston

Gaming Guru

Liz Benston

London's Times looks at Wynn vs. Adelson

7 March 2008

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Las Vegas watchers love a good fight. So it's no surprise that one of the most entertaining rivalries in corporate America, that of casino bosses Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson, got top billing in this past week's London Sunday Times.

This time, however, the usual trash-talking is sounding more like a World Wrestling Federation event than a title fight.

"Some casino operators are born more equal than others," Adelson was quoted as saying. "We do a better job than the other guys. So-called rivals may criticize me, but I say: Are their properties built yet? Are they making as much as me? Are they as rich as me? No, no and hell no."

Adelson is No. 12 on Forbes' just-released global billionaires list, his estimated $26 billion in net worth dwarfing Wynn's $3.9 billion.

From his corner, Wynn rumbled that Adelson "runs a Wal-Mart-style operation" and "harbors a lot of animosity towards a lot of people."

Adelson took a swipe at Wynn's "pearly white teeth" (likely veneers, he said) and said Wynn "thinks he's some kind of superior being."

Of MGM Mirage's under-construction CityCenter, a departure from the whimsical themes for which Las Vegas is known, Adelson said his company will "eat their lunch."

All of this testosterone comes off as desperation in the story. It noted the souring economy and the high-stakes building boom on the Strip but erroneously reported that Strip casinos won 19 percent less money from gamblers in the fourth quarter of last year compared with the same period a year ago. (Strip revenue was down less than 1 percent in the fourth quarter and up less than a percent in December, in line with predictions of flatlining revenue in 2008.)

Now that would be something to scream about.