I'm in it for the fun, professes new Macau 'homeboy'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 February, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 February, 2002, 12:00am

Steve Wynn expects to turn over more than half a billion dollars a year in Macau, but he insists he is not in it for money.

'I can't make enough money for it to have any impact on my life. It's the fun,' he said.

'I'm too young to retire,' the 60-year-old added, professing to feel like a man half his age.

But the 20-year contract he is negotiating in Macau has the potential to outlive him.

Sometimes called the father of modern Las Vegas, Mr Wynn dubbed himself a China business virgin and new Macau 'homeboy'.

The switch from Nevada cowboy to Macau businessman was sealed by the purchase of a local mobile phone - a non-flashy model - and a black Chinese hairdryer, the immaculately coiffured casino mogul said.

Mr Wynn has already taken an advocacy role for the enclave, almost invariably described in print as 'sleepy', suggesting people underestimate it.

'The place has go, more vitality than what you read in the paper,' he said.

Mr Wynn portrayed himself as a lover of the entire process of building casino resorts but said selling them was an experience 'as flat as this floor', even for the vast sums involved.

In 2000, he accepted a takeover bid from MGM Grand that valued his company at US$6.7 billion (HK$52.25 billion), and personally walked away with an estimated US$500 million before tax.

He said one of the parts he found the sweetest was the weeks just before a new resort opened, before anything broke or became worn, as staff marvelled at their new workplace.

However what kind of place his staff in Macau will be admiring appears undecided, as he gave frustratingly vague answers in a press conference.

Mr Wynn humbly stressed the need to learn more about the regional market and character before deciding on issues like design.

In the US, Mr Wynn has his fair share of detractors but he peppered the conference yesterday with smiling displays of his whiter-than-white teeth and references to his many 'buddies'.

Those mentioned included Macau gambling stalwart Stanley Ho, Disney chief Michael Eisner, film director 'Steve' Spielberg and Lan Kwai Fong supremo Allan Zeman.

The last thing Mr Wynn requested from the assembled press before disappearing into a VIP room was a copy of any good photographs of himself in Macau, which he planned to give to his mother.