Steve Wynn: A Gambling Genius

Steve Wynn: A Gambling Genius

Steve Wynn is a prominent US real estate developer, philanthropist, and art collector with a fortune of more than $3.2 billion by 2022. The businessman was head of Mirage Resorts for more than a quarter century; after selling it, he founded a new company, Wynn Resorts, which operates casino hotels in Las Vegas, Macao, and Massachusetts.

The billionaire has been active in US politics since he was a middle-aged man.

Birth NameStephen Alan Weinberg
Date of Birth27.01.1942
Place of BirthNew Haven, USA
CitizenshipUS, Monaco

Steve Wynn is a Republican supporter, thanks to which, after Donald Trump acceded to the presidency, he was appointed to the position of finance chairman on the Republican National Committee. However, in 2018, due to litigation over allegations of harassment, the businessman left the committee and his position at Wynn Resorts.

Steve Wynn has won several prestigious awards throughout his life, and Time magazine included him on its own short list of the world’s 100 most influential people.

Becoming a Businessman

Steve Wynn comes from Connecticut, where he was born at the height of World War II, in 1942. The father of the future gambling tycoon had a chain of bingo ticket parlors. However, after he died in 1963, Stephen, who had only graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, went into business and got his father’s debt of $350,000. For this reason, he dropped out of his education at Yale University instead of plunging into solving current financial problems. This is what determined his future path in life. Having paid off his debts and even expanded his salon chain, he set about implementing his plans to revive the glory of Las Vegas as the gambling capital of the world in order to become one of the wealthiest and most influential people on the planet 40 years later.

Business in Las Vegas

In 1967, the businessman bought a 3 percent stake in the popular Frontier Casino for $75,000. The deal was unsuccessful because a few years later, the eccentric Howard Hughes became the owner of this popular venue, and Steve Wynn lost his share soon. However, this move awakened a dream in the businessman, which ultimately determined his success: he realized he wanted to become the owner of his own casino. Until 1971 he organized entertainment programs in Las Vegas casinos and successfully invested in a plot of land near Caesars Palace, which brought him $700,000 after the sale.

In 1971, a momentous event in his life occurred: the controlling interest in Golden Nugget Las Vegas made Steve the youngest owner of a gambling venue in Las Vegas.

The oldest gambling venue in the city at that time was going through a crisis, the overcoming of which required significant repairs and staff renewal expenditures. The great experience of organizing spectacular performances also came in handy; regular shows with the participation of world-famous celebrities, including Frank Sinatra, returned Golden Nugget Las Vegas to its former glory and popularity. The casino was generating substantial revenues for the first time in a long period.

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In 1980, the developer expanded his gambling empire by opening another Golden Nugget in Atlantic City. However, since its profits never reached the level of a similar Las Vegas venue, the developer parted with it, having made $440 million on its sale.

Growing a Business in Las Vegas

The received funds allowed Steve to continue implementing elite casino projects, which were massive resorts. In the 1990s, the entrepreneur built Mirage, Treasure Island, and Bellagio in Las Vegas, thanks to investment financing.

Casino Mirage
Casino Mirage was one of the most luxurious casinos in the world

The Mirage, which opened in 1989, cost $630 million, making it the most fashionable and luxurious casino in Las Vegas, both in its design and entertainment offerings. These facts allowed to pay back the great investments in its construction in a matter of months. The venue profits, which instantly gained popularity among players, surpassed even those of Caesars Palace, the most fashionable casino at the time.

In 1993, the Treasure Island Casino Hotel appeared in Las Vegas. In its case, the investment in the project amounted to $430 million because the resort was designed for ordinary families who came to Las Vegas with children. For the same reason, the design was dedicated to pirates corresponding to the hotel name.

It was a place where the world-famous Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas was first performed.

In 1998, the Bellagio casino opened, and a record $1.6 billion was spent on its construction; only $400 million was spent to decorate the art gallery. In addition, the fashionable hotel-casino offered a garden, a conservatory, and superb fountains, the water performances of which were accompanied by excellent musical accompaniment.

In 1999, Steve opened Beau Rivage in Mississippi, but the venue was unprofitable; the lack of profit eventually caused financial difficulties for Wynn’s development company. To solve them, the developer had to part with Mirage Resorts in 2000, which he sold to MGM Grand. For the sake of a lucrative deal, the latter splurged on $6.6 billion, of which Steve Wynn got $500 million.

He reinvested the proceeds, buying the Desert Inn and several buildings in the neighborhood. Their purchase was part of a new strategy of the entrepreneur, who decided to open a spectacular entertainment complex in Las Vegas named after its founder: Wynn Las Vegas.

Wynn Las Vegas
Wynn Las Vegas with the new Encore housing

Wynn Las Vegas was completed in 2005, offering its guests not only a casino but also a 45-story hotel, several restaurants, a golf club, an art gallery, and branded sales centers for famous luxury brands Maserati and Ferrari. Steve Wynn’s new project has become his next hit and a symbol of modern Las Vegas.

Steve Wynn in Macao

The success in Las Vegas inspired Steve to repeat it in another famous gambling zone, Macao. In 2006, he opened Wynn Macao, a casino hotel that offered its visitors restaurants, attractions, a spa, and branded boutiques. The world’s largest entertainment complex immediately hit the top 10 of the best Asian casinos.

In 2006, Forbes named Steve one of the most influential people in the world.

In 2008, Wynn opened the new Wynn Las Vegas hotel building, dubbed Encore. Despite the array of entertainment options, which included stores, pools, and gardens, the Encore’s main attraction was still the Sky Casino, with a minimum wager of $300,000. That same year, Wynn Macao was awarded the honorary Mobil Five-Star Award.

In 2010, a similar Encore building opened at Wynn Macao, finally cementing the largest casino resort’s renown as the top casino entertainment complex in Asia and worldwide.

Wynn Palace
Wynn Palace in Macao

In 2016, the luxurious Wynn Palace opened in Macao with a 28-story hotel, 13 restaurants, a 40,000-square-foot casino, brand-name boutiques, a pool, and a huge spa.

The list of the main achievements of the businessman for the entire period of his business activities is as follows:

  • 1971 — acquisition of controlling interest in Golden Nugget Las Vegas.
  • 1980 — opening of the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City.
  • 1989 — opening of Mirage.
  • 1993 — opening of Treasure Island.
  • 1998 — opening of Bellagio.
  • 1999 — opening of Beau Rivage in Mississippi.
  • 2000 — sale of Mirage Resorts.
  • 2002 — founding Wynn Resorts Limited.
  • 2005 — opening of Wynn Las Vegas.
  • 2006 — opening of Wynn Macao.
  • 2008 — opening of Encore Las Vegas.
  • 2010 — opening of Encore Wynn Macao.
  • 2014 — obtaining the right to erect Wynn Boston Harbor.
  • 2016 — opening of Wynn Palace in Macao.

As you can see, the 2000s were prosperous and fruitful for the billionaire, allowing Steve Wynn to create a real gambling empire, which today includes several of the world’s best casino resorts.

Steve Wynn Retired From Casino Business

In 2018, the successful businessman faced several allegations of harassment that are being prosecuted. Because of The Wall Street Journal, the story gained so much publicity that the very next day, Steve resigned as finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. A few more days later, he left his position at Wynn Resorts for the same reason. Despite his denial of guilt, Steve paid $7.5 million on the only claim the court granted; the others were dismissed after lengthy proceedings. The company also paid two more fines, $20 million and $35 million, for attempting to conceal information about the sexual harassment of its CEO.

Today, in his old age, Steve Wynn has retired from business and devotes all his time to recreation and philanthropy. As of 2022, his fortune was estimated at $3.2 billion.

Publication Author
Donald Peterson
Author of articles
Donald Peterson is an avid gambler from Edmonton, Alberta, who also writes about his experience with casinos. He’s been in the business for over 10 years, following the ever-changing industry landscape. His articles are aimed at helping beginners with choosing casinos, suitable games, and strategies.
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