In It to Wynn It
After months of keeping a low profile, billionaire Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn has emerged as a player in the derby to open Boston’s first casino. The entry of Wynn, the arch-nemesis of Dorchester-born casino titan Sheldon Adelson, who himself has designs on landing a Boston casino, should ratchet up already high stakes.
The news comes via Charles Sarkis, the Wonderland Greyhound Park owner who would like nothing better than to open a casino at his track.
“I can tell you that Wynn is looking seriously,” Sarkis said. “He’s looking at various places [in Massachusetts].”
Sarkis declined to say exactly where Wynn had set his eye, nor did he confirm or deny that he had been in talks with him. But he did say that in addition to Donald Trump, who Sarkis has been previously linked to, he was in talks with another of the country’s most prominent casino operators.
Sarkis then added that Wynn has close personal connections with the track. Wynn’s father, Sarkis said, “worked at a place on Revere Beach…He was a sign painter and worked at Wonderland.”
Hmm, so Sarkis, who says he’s in talks with one of the country’s major casino operators, was pointing out his track’s connections to Wynn. You do the math.
As for other potential local partners for Wynn, he once partnered with Suffolk Downs owner Richard Fields on a bid to operate New York State’s horse-racing franchise. The East Boston track declined to comment on whether they’d talked with Wynn, but Suffolk Downs has for several months been in on-again off-again talks with Sarkis about combining the two tracks’ bids.
For Wynn—whose net worth is reportedly $3.9 billion—Boston would represent another jewel in an already impressive empire. He built his reputation as king of the Vegas strip with the famed Mirage, Treasure Island, and Bellagio casino resorts.
After selling those properties off for billions in 2000, he unveiled the $2.7 billion Wynn Las Vegas resort in 2005, and in 2006 he opened the $1.2 billion Wynn Macao casino resort. Along with Adelson’s Sands Corp and Harrah’s, Wynn Resorts, Ltd is regarded as one of the world’s foremost casino heavyweights.
Over the years, Wynn has had a particularly contentious relationship with his Strip neighbor Adelson, who has been up-front about his desire to open a mega casino in his home state. This excerpt from a 2005 Forbes story pretty much captures the spirit of their relationship:
Adelson calls Wynn “a liar” and “an egomaniac” who dismisses other people’s ideas and gets too much credit for reinventing Las Vegas as a family attraction and convention mecca. “He’s just demeaning,” Adelson says. When he offered Wynn a chance to join him in the Cotai project, he says, Wynn told him, “That’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard.” Wynn says that simply isn’t true–Adelson “has got animosity toward a lot of people.” He adds, “Sheldon has an inferiority complex. He gets very upset when someone is standing in his way. And when Sheldon gets angry, he attacks.”
Just last month, the two were locked in a bitter dispute over parking spaces. Yes, parking spaces. They’ve also squabbled over noise emanating from the Mirage’s fake volcano.
Their rivalry adds yet another twist to a competition already brimming with contention. Not unlike Adelson and Wynn, Fields and Donald Trump also have less than warm feelings for each other (the two are currently locked up in a $1 billion lawsuit).
To review: Trump hates Fields, who once partnered with Wynn, who hates Adelson.
There’s no telling who hates who the most, but one thing is certain: given their history, there’s little Wynn would love more than to come to Massachusetts and beat Adelson on his home turf.