The gaming industry fallout sparked by the sexual misconduct charges against Wynn Resorts founder Steve Wynn has been dramatic, but it remains difficult to gauge what it means for the hunt for IR licenses in Japan.
On the one hand, the complete separation of Steve Wynn from the company which still bears his name is certainly beneficial for dispelling the whiff of scandal that may have given pause to Japanese regulators, but at the same time there are also strong doubts that Wynn Resorts can remain the masterful firm that it had been under its founder’s leadership.
Wynn Resorts still contemplates a licensing bid in Japan. An update to the company’s Japanese-language webpage makes this clear in a message from new CEO Matt Maddox which states, in part, “We are working proactively toward the development of a Japanese integrated resort. It would be a great honor if we and our Japanese partners to realize the ultimate integrated resort.”
Michael Weaver, CMO for Wynn Resorts, also directly confirms to Asia Gaming Brief that Wynn Resorts “has continued interest in Japan.”
There are also rumors that other major operators may consider bids to purchase Wynn Resorts outright—most notably the April 5 report in the New York Post stating that MGM was entering into back channel contacts for that purpose.
But should a major operator such as MGM, Caesars, or Sands actually follow through and buy out the massive Wynn Resorts operation, such an action could remove two major players from the Japanese IR race. Wynn, after all, would be no more, and the operator which purchased it would have to commit a massive amount of money in order to take control of Wynn, leaving little remaining for a major Japanese development.
Spectrum Gaming Group Managing Director Fred Gushin, however, tells Asia Gaming Brief, “It’s important to remember that it’s not just how much money they have on hand, but their ability to raise money for development that matters.”
Gushin argues that even if Wynn Resorts is bought out by another operator, that company would likely continue its aggressive efforts to win a license in Japan, even if it is short on money in their own coffers.
At present, the series of dramatic events swirling around Wynn Resorts since January have exercised an indeterminate effect on the Japan IR race.