Steve Wynn’s Charmed Casino Career

It seems that gaming was in Connecticut-born casino mogul, Steve Wynn’s blood right from the start; his father owned a string of popular bingo parlours throughout the eastern United States.

When Steve’s father died, he left the family with US$350 000 of gambling debt. So Steve dropped out of university and took over the family bingo business. Within a year, he had flatted his father’s debt and actually expanded the business. This was the first of Steve’s many successes in the gaming industry.

Steve Wynn’s Charmed Casino Career

A Golden New Frontier

In 1967, with some of the money he had made out of turning is father’s business around, Wynn and his family moved to Las Vegas and purchased a small stake in the Frontier Hotel and Casino. Use of the profits from one venture to finance the next eventually became a hallmark of how Steve did business and proved to be one of the keys to his success.

In 1971, Wynn used the profits he made out of a land deal with Howard Hughes and Caesar’s Palace to acquire controlling interest in the Golden Nugget Las Vegas. Steve completely upgraded this historic venue, creating a fresh new resort hotel and casino. He continued to increase his stake in the hotel over the years until, in 1973, he became the majority shareholder and the youngest casino owner in Las Vegas.

1980 saw the commencement of construction on his next venture, the Golden Nugget Atlantic City. It was the first Atlantic City casino to be built from scratch and only the sixth casino to be opened in the city since gambling was legalised in New Jersey in 1976. Even though it was the city’s second-smallest casino when it first opened, Steve managed to turn the Golden Nugget Atlantic City into the city’s top-earning casino at that time. He sold the Golden Nugget for a staggering US$440 million in 1987.

Two years later, Steve opened another casino – the Nevada Club in Laughlin, Nevada – and rebranded it as, you guessed it, the Golden Nugget Laughlin.

Mirages & Treasures on the Strip

Also in 1989, Steve opened the doors to his first Las Vegas Strip casino – the legendary Mirage. Wynn was personally involved in the design and construction of this US$630 million venture, which he financed chiefly with high-yield bonds. Although the project was viewed as a major risk, it turned out to be a major success. Notably, The Mirage was the first casino to use full-time security cameras.

Steve used The Mirage’s old parking lot as the space for his next (US$450 million) project, Treasure Island Hotel and Casino, in 1993.

A Vegas Landmark is Born

The Bellagio, one of Las Vegas’s best-loved landmarks, was opened in October 1998 and the force behind it was Steve’s company, Mirage Resorts. At the time, it was the most expensive hotel in the world and cost US$6 billion to construct. The Bellagio remains one of the world’s greatest casinos, is home to a huge number of casino games of all shapes and sizes, and its famous Fountains of Bellagio attract thousands of tourists each year.

A year later, Steve developed the Beau Rivage barge hotel and casino – the largest outside of Nevada – in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Moving on to Macau

In June 2000, just weeks before Mirage Resorts was sold to MGM Grand for US$6.6 billion, Steve bought and closed the Desert Inn. He used the money made on this deal to take his company Wynn Resorts, public in 2002. In 2004, Steve reached billionaire status, with a net worth of US$1.3 billion.

In 2005, he opened his most expensive resort ever – the Wynn Las Vegas on the site of the former Desert Inn. Then, in 2006, he ventured into Asia and opened the Wynn Macau, which became only the fifth Asian hotel to achieve a Mobil Five-Star Award.