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Rod Smith

Inside Gaming: Benjamins Outweigh Beauty at Wynn Resort

21 February 2005

Read all about it. Steve Wynn is about to open a beautiful resort. Forget the aesthetics, however. What he's really doing is opening a magic money machine.

Will it work? Probably. Despite the danger in second-guessing the public, Wynn says his new casino is going to be a big winner at the box office.

However, Wynn Las Vegas could also fail and Steve Wynn could end up spending his retirement in Costa Rica. Unlikely, but even then Wynn admits his suits will still be lined with gold.

How will he do it? There's little doubt that Wynn Las Vegas will be full, starting with its opening night, April 28, and will probably generate the highest revenue per available room on the Strip. Wynn is relying largely on a shrewdly designed casino to milk the demand for his new resort for all it's worth, as well as on showmanship, strong hotel management and solid convention business.

The casino floor will be loaded with so-called high roller slots. Of the 1,962 slots on his casino floor, 8.5 percent will be large-play machines taking bets of $5 and up and 45 percent will be video reel machines with multiple games so the sky will be the limit on bets.

Even with a few penny machines, all the rage in Australia, the chances are they'll be programmed for maximum pennies in. There won't be any shortage of slots since that's where the biggest and most stable returns are, just a shortage of nickel and quarter slots for you and me. This is one stage that isn't meant for plebeians.

Slots aside, don't look for lots of felt. Wynn will only have 137 table games and 27 poker tables. They're expensive to run; dealers need time off and payoffs come more in crowds generated rather than wins for the house.

Word on the street is that Wynn is also looking to stiff players with the least generous comps anywhere in Las Vegas.

Scuttlebutt is he wants players putting in four hours a day with an average bet of $500 per hand at table games to qualify for a full comp of room, food and beverage. We also hear he has a tight formula for handing out limited comps if you play more than four hours a day but bet less than $500 for an average hand.

For video poker and slot players, Wynn is looking for a "daily handle," or coins played, of $50,000. Otherwise, forget the freebies, but you'll still be able to pay through the nose.

That includes some pretty stiff room rates, starting at $200 a night and going up to $429 a night as the views improve, presumably from the kitchen exhaust fans. Suites start at $400 a night. They all offer at least a glimpse of the golf course or the Strip and come with a king or two double beds. Suites start at $400 a night.

The Inside Gaming column is compiled by Gaming Wire Editor Rod Smith. You can contact him by phone at (702) 338-9653, fax (702) 387-5243 or e-mail at