Wynn Resorts Ltd. CEO Steve Wynn says he’d like to partner with some friends to develop another megaresort on the Las Vegas Strip, but he hasn’t done so because of what he calls President Barack Obama’s anti-business attitude.
In an interview with Las Vegas political journalist Jon Ralston on the “Ralston Reports” show this week, Wynn also expressed support for Mitt Romney while criticizing Democrats including Rep. Shelley Berkley and Sen. Harry Reid.
On the megaresort issue, the billionaire casino executive Wynn told Ralston he’s friends with the owners of the land across from Wynn Las Vegas and Encore that once was occupied by the New Frontier and had been planned for the Plaza resort before the project was halted during the recession.
The land had been planned for development by investors including the owner of the Plaza Hotel in New York City.
“They overpaid for a piece of property” during the economic boom, Wynn said. “They got a hold of 34 acres. They ended up being in for more than $1 billion for an empty piece of property on the Strip.”
Wynn said the investors came to him and said, “We made a miscalculation; we realize we’ll have to invest our way out.”
“How about going in with us? You run it, you design it, we’ll call it the ‘Wynn Plaza,’” Wynn recalled of the conversation, adding it would be a convention-type resort with a connection across the Strip to Wynn and Encore.
“That would have been an investment of $2 billion and created at least another 10,000 regular jobs. I could do that and we could get the money,” he said.
“What happened?” Ralston asked.
“I’m afraid of the president. I have no idea what goofy idea, what crazy, anti-business program this administration will come up with,” Wynn said. “Every business guy I know in the country is frightened of Barack Obama and the way he thinks.”
Wynn said Obama, upon taking office in 2009, should have focused on job creation as the nation was mired in recession.
“If you had a Top 10 list, No. 10 would have been health care,” Wynn said.
“The only thing that was screaming toward the sky was jobs,” he said. “He turned his back on the No. 1 priority.”
The casino executive said he voted for Obama but was later disappointed because he believes Obama violated pledges to reduce the federal deficit and to develop a comprehensive immigration policy.
“The living standard of Americans is being destroyed by this government in Washington that will not stop spending money that we don’t have,” Wynn said. “I’m watching my employees’ living standard go through the floor.”
As for Romney, Wynn said, the Republican has a track record of getting things done in business and with the Olympics and concerns that Romney is personally opposed to gambling are a non-issue because gaming isn’t an industry regulated by the federal involvement.
“No one’s going to make gambling illegal. It’s a state issue,” he said.
“He is absolutely going to be a fabulous president,” Wynn said. “He’s never been unsuccessful in anything he tried.”
Wynn said Romney “knows how to use human resources — when to hire, when to fire, when to invest, when to sell.”
“He went into politics in a Democratic state (Massachusetts) and reached across the aisle,” Wynn said. “As he mentioned during the debate, you don’t go into a meeting saying, ‘It’s my way or the highway.’”
As for Berkley, Wynn said that in an earlier interview with Ralston, the congresswoman had misrepresented what she had told Wynn when Wynn complained to her about her vote in favor of Obama’s health care reform package.
Wynn insists Berkley told him she voted for health care reform for political reasons, particularly pressure to do so from Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader. Berkley disputes she said that and says she did the right thing for her constituents.
“Every single word that woman said to you was made up,” said Wynn, who supports Republican Sen. Dean Heller in the Senate race against Berkley. “Shall I use the ‘L’ word?”
“This woman has no right to be elected to be in the United States Senate,” Wynn said.
Wynn, during the interview, also mimicked the slow Southern drawl of former U.S. Rep. Dina Titus.
Wynn said she commented about voting for health care reform: “Oh Steve, I know there are some bad things and some good things and it’s the toughest decision I ever made.’’
Before the vote, Wynn said he had supported both Berkley and Titus.
As for Reid, Wynn said he’s been friends with the Senate majority leader for 45 years but is disappointed Reid hasn’t been effective in dealing with gridlock, particularly on the federal budget.
“When the president lost control of the House, Harry had the chance to be one of the most effective, powerful, strategic Senate majority leaders in history. That opportunity came and went,” he said.
Without congressional action, the government is headed toward a “fiscal cliff” of tax hikes and deep spending cuts in early 2013, which, Wynn noted, include “defense cuts that are coming up.”
“Every single moment, the Senate has been a failure,” Wynn said.