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Rod Smith

Inside Gaming Column: Water, Fields Part of Wynn's Vision

8 May 2006

Megadeveloper Steve Wynn says that while he will yield to the pressures of economics and close his golf course in the long run, he'll never give up using the green space and water features as the central elements of his prize resort. Otherwise, he'd just be re-creating the Ginza in Tokyo or Times Square in New York City, he says. Someday, what are now the 18th green and waterfall will anchor the resort, with green space running all the way to Paradise Road. "I think of this as my civic opportunity," Wynn says. "This is the core of the city. We need something wonderful. I'll make it more theatrical than it is now, but in some ways this is the most important thing I've ever done. I'm very focused on it and I will do it right."

Industry insiders and private data say Boyd Gaming Corp. has gained market share in the Las Vegas locals market from Station Casinos since South Coast opened over the holidays. Boyd's share of off-Strip game usage, counting Gold Coast, The Orleans, Sam's Town, South Coast and Suncoast, was 31 percent in the 2006 first quarter, up from 28 percent a year earlier. At the same time, Station Casinos' share of off-Strip play was about 38 percent, down from about 40 percent a year earlier.

East Coast developers say the biggest trend in tribal casino developments are golf courses. There are more than 50 tribal-owned courses in 16 states, and 20 more are planned, mostly near casinos, they say. Not just any golf course will do, however. Tribes have gone all out and hired revered designers such as Tom Fazio, Jerry Pate, Pete Dye and Rees Jones, whose involvement can earn courses instant acclaim.

New York real estate magnate Bruce Eichner, developer of the Cosmopolitan, has set a new standard no one expected. His $2 billion development on the 10 acres he bought next to Bellagio has led developers to stop focusing on new casino operations and look for more real estate. New York, Chicago and Miami developers say that's why they're looking at the Tropicana, Riviera, New Frontier and Sahara parcels with possible schemes for ever-denser development, Wall Street analysts say.

After a little reflection, Josephine Crawford, the little old lady who won a record $10 million on a Harrah's Atlantic City slot machine, is dreaming of a trip to Las Vegas probably more than anything else. Then, there might be a trip to Italy, where her parents grew up. The 84-year-old grandmother has been playing casinos in Atlantic City since they opened, but says she never before won more than $1,000.

Gaming Wire Editor Rod Smith can be reached by phone at 477-3893 or by e-mail at