Wynning Odds

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Resort developer/designer Steve Wynn hit the jackpot in Sin City with his great vision, but the 68-year-old billionaire is still reinventing and expanding his empire. When the casino king plays, he always wins.

If being in Las Vegas feels like an escape from reality, like a warp hole with no end in sight to the lights, glitz, and gambling, then Steve Wynn has succeeded. Inspired by family trips to Disneyland and the Fountainebleau Miami Beach in the 1950s, the tsar of Las Vegas has build his own fantastical empire in Sin City, among towering edifices that blur the line between reality and fantasy.

“The idea of a world that was more perfect, more idyllic than the outside world struck me as a really cool thing,” says the 68-year-old billionaire with a net worth of about $1.6 billion. When the Fountainebleau opened in 1954, it was the greatest destination on earth; everybody all over came to the resort during the winters. And Disneyland was its younger version. “The Fountainebleau and Disneyland moved my father, mother, and I. Ben Novack and Walt Disney both created these emotional experiences that you can live in, wrap yourself in. My entrepreneurial spirit was very much tied to the notion of creating a place that was much better than the outside world. And that’s what I wanted to do—to build places like that.”

Indeed, the hotelier and casino king is the expert of inspiring awe. He arguably has made more impact on the Vegas skyline than anyone, starting with a small stake in the Frontier Hotel and Casino operation when he first arrived in Las Vegas and then with the Golden Nugget in the mid ‘70s, which he revamped and expanded. But Wynn struck gold when he revolutionized the hotel world and revitalized the Las Vegas Strip with the Mirage in 1989, Treasure Island in 1993, and Bellagio in 1998. Then when Vegas became too trite again, Wynn turned another corner and wowed the world with Wynn Las Vegas in 2005. And when the economic downturn halted spending nationwide, Wynn played the wild card and opened Encore a few days before Christmas in 2008.

The casino resort tycoon who keeps turning the heat up in Las Vegas has also turned the heat on Washington recently when discussing the future of the Wynn Empire: “Asia,” he says. With a Wynn and Encore in Macau and a third forthcoming hotel in China, Wynn has proclaimed on-air, “Macau has been steady. The shocking, unexpected government is the one in Washington.” Regardless of where the company will expand, one thing is certain—everything Steve Wynn touches turns to gold.

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