Published June 18, 2011

Wynn-Win? Casino mogul eyes Singapore

Steve Wynn wants to build 'brainiest, cleverest hotel in Asia' here



HAVING transformed the landscape in Las Vegas and Macau, casino gaming tycoon Steve Wynn has set his sights on Singapore, where he wants to build 'the brainiest, cleverest hotel in Asia'.

'I'm dying to go to Singapore,' he said, in an exclusive interview with BT. 'That's my next goal in life - to build a hotel in Singapore.'

Mr Wynn, a legend in his industry, has created some of the world's most iconic casino gaming resorts, including Mirage, Treasure Island and Bellagio in Las Vegas (all subsequently sold to MGM), as well as Wynn and Encore - also in Las Vegas, which are controlled by Wynn Resorts, of which he is the chairman and CEO.

After Macau's gambling monopoly was disbanded in 2002, he became the second Las Vegas casino mogul (after Sheldon Adelson) to venture into Macau, where he opened Wynn Macau in 2006 and Encore at Wynn in April 2010. He is in the process of building yet another resort on Macau's Cotai strip, which he claims will be 'the masterpiece of my life'.

All of his properties in Macau are positioned at the top end of the highly lucrative market there - as they are in Las Vegas.

Mr Wynn had initially expressed an interest in participating in the bidding for Singapore's integrated resorts (IRs) in 2005. However, he later withdrew from the contest. 'I realised I couldn't give it enough time because I had not yet opened Wynn and not yet opened Macau - it would have been an overreach if I had tried,' he said.

He also had difficulty conforming with Singapore's bidding guidelines at the time. 'If someone says, you've got four months to give us a presentation on your hotel . . . Show me what you're going to build, and you've got to build just that - I'm frightened. I can't do it that way.'

Asked what kind of hotel he would like to build in Singapore, Mr Wynn said: 'The personality of Singapore is brainy. I like that part of it . . . I'd like to create something that represents the brainiest, cleverest hotel in Asia.'

He explained that the type of hotel he wants to create would 'need the ancillary income of a casino to justify the investment'. 'That is what allows you to build incredible facilities.'

The opening of any new casino gaming resort would have to wait till at least March 2017, which is when the 10-year exclusivity granted to the two existing IRs expires.

Mr Wynn pointed out that he would, in any case, take three to four years to execute the sort of project he has in mind for Singapore. 'I only go for hotels where I can shoot the moon,' he said. 'I'm not the Four Seasons. I want to go past that.'