After falling in October and November, Steve Wynn’s star is once again on the rise. On December 8 Wynn Resorts announced its chairman and CEO had bought a little over a million of its shares. The market saw the move as a clear show of faith in the long-term profitability of Wynn’s big new bet, the US$4.1 billion Wynn Palace Macau now under construction on the city’s Cotai strip. Shares in Wynn Resorts surged more than 8% in one day, to close at US$69.91.
With 1,700 suites, Wynn Palace will more than double Wynn Resorts’ capacity in the world’s largest gaming city. In mid-November the company said the project was running three months behind schedule, and opening would be postponed from March 25 to June 25 because of construction delays. This came after an angry outburst from Wynn, prompting rumors he had fallen out with the Macau government.
New casinos in Macau have of late only been told how many gaming tables they can operate at the last minute. Melco Crown’s Studio City, for example, was only awarded its quota of 250 tables seven days before its October 27 opening. Nobody in the industry thinks Wynn’s new project will get the 500 tables he says it needs to see a return.
Frustrated with this state of affairs, Wynn flew off the handle during a conference call to discuss the company’s Q3 results. Macau’s bureaucracy, he said, was “outrageous and ridiculous,” and its approach “the most ludicrous … that I’ve seen in my 45 years of experience.”
Since the return of his fortunes, however, the tycoon seems to have been taking a humbler tone. In an interview with the Las Vegas Sun, he said, “I was probably a little tougher on them [the authorities] than I should have been.” He added, “I didn’t blast anybody. I’ve been their fair-haired boy in Macau since day one. But it’s ok to complain a little. It’s ok to have a different point of view.”