Casino entrepreneur Steve Wynn (pictured) appears to have ‘walked back’ the tone – if not the message – of some comments he made on his company’s earnings call in October about public policy on gaming in Macau, a jurisdiction where he is building a US$4.1-billion resort called Wynn Palace.
“Here we are spending billions of [U.S.] dollars creating non-gaming facilities and then arbitrarily someone says ‘Well, you should only have these many tables’. No jurisdiction ever has imposed that kind of logic on us,” Mr Wynn had said in remarks to investment analysts during Wynn Resorts Ltd’s third quarter earnings call. He had added that such an approach to public policy made planning his business “almost a mystical process”.
Wynn Resorts is the parent company of Macau-based gaming operator Wynn Macau Ltd.
Union Gaming Securities Asia Ltd said in a note on November 18 that four major Macau casino schemes still to launch on Cotai – including Wynn Palace – are likely to get 250 tables each.
The Macau government aims to limit the increase in live dealer table numbers in the Macau market to 3 percent compound annual expansion until the end of 2022, from a base of 5,485 tables recorded at the end of the fourth quarter in 2012.
Wynn Resorts’ chairman and chief executive struck a more conciliatory note – regarding Macau policy – in comments said to have been made on the sidelines of a recent public event in the United States. The report of his remarks, carried by the online version of the Las Vegas Sun newspaper, gave Monday’s date.
“I was probably a little tougher on them than I should have been on the conference call. But look, I have made promises to the people over there, and it’s only fair that they help me keep those promises. But it wasn’t as serious as everyone made it out to be: ‘Wynn blasts government,’ Mr Wynn was quoted saying.
“I didn’t blast anybody. I’ve been their fair-haired boy in Macau since day one. But it’s okay to complain a little. It’s okay to have a different point of view,” Mr Wynn was additionally reported as stating.
Mr Wynn opened his first Macau gaming resort, Wynn Macau, on the territory’s peninsula, in September 2006, four years after the city liberalised its gaming market.
The entrepreneur was further quoted saying in his recent remarks: “I think, in the long run, the [Macau] government will do the right thing and be more understanding… They have their way of looking at it, which is not the same way a businessman has of looking at it. That’s true in this country [the U.S.], as well.”
Wynn Resorts announced in mid-November that Leighton Holdings Ltd, its general contractor on the Wynn Palace project in Macau, had told the casino operator it could not meet a March 25, 2016 deadline for opening the venue. Wynn Resorts said as a result it was putting back the launch to June 25.
According to Monday’s media report, Mr Wynn said he had been “misled by my builder and not in a mean way,” and that the delays related to “some complications in installation”.
He confirmed that Leighton would not be entitled to a completion bonus of US$38 million relating to the March target. He added that were the contractor unable to meet the June 25 deadline it would be liable for a “US$1.5 million-a-day penalty”. There would also be a “US$200,000 a day” penalty if the first five floors of Wynn Palace were not “done” and accepted by Wynn Resorts by December 24, with a further US$200,000 per day penalty if a further 10 floors of the 28-storey building were not accepted by the client by a January 24 deadline, Mr Wynn was quoted as saying.
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"We have estimated that on average, the [daily] visitor arrivals for this year’s Chinese New Year break could turn out to be a bit weaker than for the Christmas holiday period"
Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes
Director of the Macao Government Tourism Office