Steve Wynn: Mass. casino regulators too eager to find corruption

Steve Wynn meets with the media in a villa at Wynn Las Vegas on Wednesday, April 27, 2011.

Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts Ltd., operator of the Wynn and Encore resorts on the Strip and properties in Macau, reported its third-quarter earnings Thursday.

Company: Wynn Resorts Ltd. (Nasdaq: WYNN)

Revenue: $1.49 billion (up 6.9 percent from the third quarter of 2012). The company reported revenue increases in Macau (9.6 percent) and Las Vegas (1.1 percent).

Earnings: $182 million (up 62.5 percent from the third quarter of 2012). Food and beverage profits declined in Las Vegas because of competitive pressures. Wynn Resorts Chairman Steve Wynn said his competitors are paying more for DJ talent in their nightclubs and have stolen away some talent, which has resulted in some lost business.

Earnings per share: $1.81 (up 61.6 percent from third quarter of 2012).

What it means: Wynn said his company is on its way to having the best year in its history with revenue $120 million ahead of projections in Macau and $54 million in Las Vegas.

But Wynn spent much of his time on today’s earnings conference call criticizing Massachusetts gaming regulators, who questioned him last week in a hearing on establishing rules for the oversight of the casino industry in that state.

Wynn said his company will continue its bid to build a luxury hotel with a casino in Everett, near Boston, but he is concerned that regulators are overzealous in their efforts to find corruption in the industry.

He fears that after investing $1.4 billion in Massachusetts that regulators would find a reason to take his license away.

“It’s very confusing and it’s going to be the conversation of my (board of directors) on Monday and Tuesday on how we view these things,” Wynn said.

He said he was “flabbergasted that Caesars had withdrawn its bid” to build a casino at Suffolk Downs. Caesars backed out after regulators determined that one of the company’s partners had ties to organized crime in Russia.

“It’s one of the most challenging, complex situations I’ve ever faced,” Wynn said.

Wynn said that because of strict, expanded ethics guidelines, company officials aren’t allowed to speak directly to regulators except in public settings.

He said the company’s goal is to expand tourism to the region and create jobs, “but you get the impression that they’re doing you a favor to say hi to you.”

Asked about a timeline on the Massachusetts project, Wynn said he didn’t know because the regulators keep changing them, even though the company must adhere to strict deadlines for providing information.

“Being an investor in America today is tough,” he said. “And that’s not just Steve Wynn talking.”

Quote: “We got a great reception when we were there (to introduce the project in Massachusetts). Even the Red Sox aren’t that popular in Everett.” — Wynn Resorts Chairman Steve Wynn