Wynn-Lose: Steve Wynn Flip-Flops Again on Online Gambling
Let’s make one thing clear.
Steve Wynn was in favor of online gambling long before he opposed it. Big time. As in so enthusiastically in favor of online gambling (and poker specifically) that he once signed up for a strategic business partnership with PokerStars.com. You remember PokerStars, don’t you? The world’s largest online poker site based over on the Isle of Man?
Now it appears Wynn has changed his mind. Again.
The casino mogul reportedly told veteran Las Vegas political reporter Jon Ralson that he’s now opposed to online gambling (and poker, presumably). This announcement might actually carry some weight had Wynn been silent up to this point and never weighed in previously on the hotly-contested topic of online gambling. But he’s more than weighed in up to now. He already picked his prom date. In fact, he was the plum architect of what could have been an online and land-based mega-alliance, which is exactly what would have taken place had Black Friday not occurred a few years ago.
Here’s what Wynn told Forbes (magazine) when his deal was first announced in March 2011:
“We are convinced that the lack of regulation of Internet gaming within the US must change,” said Wynn, chief executive of Las Vegas casino company Wynn Resorts, in a statement. “We must recognize that this activity is occurring and that law enforcement does not have the tools to stop it.”
Even before the mega PokerStars deal took place, Wynn was on the fence flip-flopping back and forth like an empty garbage bag tethered to barbed-wire. He seems to change his tune every time the wind blows in a different direction. And now, after all this back and forth indecision on his part ever since online gambling became an issue, and a broken business deal here and there, he really expects to be taken seriously?
In his remarks to Ralston, Wynn cited two primary objections. Neither was very well thought out, revealing the stark reality that Wynn likely hasn’t reflected too much on this topic. Either that or Ralston just happened to catch him on a bad day. In other words, for someone making statements on online gambling certain to be widely quoted, his actual comments reveal astounding naivete.
Wynn’s first objection is the fear underage youth will find ways to gamble online. Indeed, that seems like a reasonable objection until some actual facts are examined. First, all the major poker websites use various means of age-verification to ensure young people aren’t playing online for real money. Second, two states already have already implemented these measures inside the United States — including Nevada and New Jersey. So far, things have gone off without a hitch. Where’s all the underage gambling going on in Nevada and New Jersey? Moreover, countermeasures to underage gambling will continue to improve. Wynn is obviously either very misinformed or terribly confused here because safeguards are a top priority for all online operators. If anyone fears underage gambling and the potential harm that a major scandal would cause, it’s the online poker sites.
Wynn’s second objection was even more revealing, and actually quite disheartening — particularly to those of us who have great respect for Wynn and what he’s done for the casino industry. Wynn made the appalling statement that he’s opposed to the standard online business model because the government shares the revenues. Here’s exactly what he told Ralston:
“This is not a good entrepreneurial opportunity…Where is the business opportunity? The big problem I see is I don’t see the government letting us keep the money.”
Translation: Wynn wants to keep it all, and if he doesn’t get his way, he doesn’t want to play. So, he takes his ball and goes home.
This is a remarkable statement and embarrassing admission for Wynn. It’s probably something he wishes he could take back. After all, Wynn has no problem working huge business deals over in Macau and letting a foreign government — namely China — take a sizable portion of his profits. China! As in, Peoples Republic of…. As in Red…..
So much for patriotism. So much for helping the red, white, and blue here at home.
We’ve heard this before. After all, this is the same Steve Wynn who called President Obama “a pure Socialist.”
That’s an odd characterization since Wynn’s net worth has increased by about $200 million since President Obama took office, according to the most recent figures.
Indeed, not only has his signature property Wynn done quite well, it’s doubled in size (Encore Las Vegas opened afterward). So, that’s how socialism works, huh?
I’ve met Wynn personally a number of times. I like him. He’s easily Las Vegas’ most important entrepreneur of the last 30 years and one of the top five most important people in the city’s history. I think Wynn is a wonderful ambassador for our city.
But he’s also wrong. Worse, his comments about online gambling reveal a lack of understanding of new technologies and inevitable consumer habits certain to steer gambling into the 21st Century and beyond.
For such a great visionary who always seemed to see the future, Steve Wynn now appears trapped in the past.