I’ve got a new Las Vegas Business Press column up, in which I discuss the historical context behind Wynn’s musings about moving to Macau.
Steve Wynn made headlines when he suggested he might consider moving the headquarters of Wynn Resorts Ltd. to Macau from Las Vegas. As always, Wynn's forthrightness points the way to a larger truth about the future of the casino industry.
Wynn Resorts is a Las Vegas success story. Since moving here in 1967 as a part-owner of the Frontier, Steve Wynn has been one of the city's prime movers.
He began making a mark in 1973, when he became the chief executive officer of the Golden Nugget, then a small downtown casino with no real distinction.
Wynn's aspirations outside of Las Vegas have always been an important piece of the puzzle.
I think that many of the so-called pundits have reacted more emotionally than rationally to Wynn lately, particularly since he’s become critical of the current administration, and that’s what’s driving some of the comments out there. We talked about this a little on the latest Vegas Gang.
Wynn’s political opinions and the possibility of his moving the headquarters of his company are, I think, two separate issues. It’s not like he’s threatening to go John Galt on us: he’s just saying that he might move more elements of Wynn Resorts to the city that is its top market. People give another prominent CEO grief for not living in Las Vegas, since that’s where the action is, and by this logic they should be demanding that Wynn spend more time in Macau.
The most fascinating thing about Wynn is that, like Jay Sarno, his career doesn’t have a single, predictable arc. If he did, he’d have just kept expanding the Golden Nugget or, at the very least, staying with that brand. Instead, you’ve had forays into Atlantic City, Mississippi, and Macau, with the sale of Mirage Resorts along the way. All the time, he was reacting to changing conditions. If things had gone differently in Atlantic City, he might not even have built the Mirage, or at the very least would have built it in Atlantic City, and casino history would be much different.
So it wouldn’t entirely surprise me if the next stage of Wynn’s career takes him in a completely different direction. It’s happened before and there’s no reason to think it won’t happen again.