Warren Buffett likes to say that we’ve already had class warfare in this country and his class won. Whilst laid up, recuperating from an ill-advised meal at Mizumi, I had reason to ponder this in connection with the recent stateside exploits of Steve Wynn. His recent smackdown at the hands of Foxborough voters arguably makes him a casualty of Main Street’s rage toward Wall Street, cut down by a stray bullet. In expressing anti-Wynn sentiment at the ballot box, were Foxborough burghers being irrational? Yes. Counterproductive? Yes. Petulant? Maybe. Was their sentiment understandable? Absolutely. How often does the Average Jo get step into the voting both and, essentially, give a billionaire a kick in the pants?
Steve Wynn was an innocent bystander to the Crash of ‘08 but, with a still-irate electorate swinging in search of a piñata, he’s been the wrong plutocrat at the wrong place at the wrong time. The considerably less-than-worshipful reception he got in Philadelphia must have given him a foretaste of what he could expect in Massachusetts. Most of America simply doesn’t hold casino CEOs in the godlike awe with which many of us in Nevada do and the moguls have got to put down their favorite, oft-thumbed book. In other words, stop reading Atlas Shrugged! Like, yesterday. Nobody in Philly threw a fit when Wynn abruptly left and Bay State residents aren’t begging him or Sheldon Adelson to return there, either. Most Americans like casinos and would want to have them in their states. But they’re not going to supplicate.
Going commando. Anti-Wynn sentiment might have run higher still had this report broken a month earlier. Few would dispute that he deserves to one of the highest CEO paychecks in the industry ($3.9 billion) but two discrete bonuses totaling $11 million might be pushing shareholder tolerance, though the stock did spike dramatically last summer. Wynn Resorts also subsidized El Steve’s lifestyle to the tune of $1.5 million plus an extra $71.5K of “merchandise discounts,” to help him make ends meet in these parlous times. Adelson’s $2.6 million private commando squad is nothing new and nepotism is a time-honored tradition in the casino biz. And the company-paid suite for Adelson family members works out to $268.55/day, which is one way to maintain your ADR, I reckon. Next time you stay at Venelazzo, ask for the “Adelson Family Special” rate.
Sheldon Adelson, cheesehead. The tycoon’s wallet made a cameo appearance in the recent Wisconsin recall effort, as did front group Center for Union Facts, which was rattling its saber earlier this year in Las Vegas, ahead of the next round of collective bargaining between the Culinary Union and major casinos. I realize it’s a matter of principle for Adelson but you have to wonder at its advisability for Las Vegas Sands at a time when it’s angling for a casino in New York City, the heart of Union Country. If Big Labor wasn’t gunning for Adelson before, he’ll be in their crosshairs now.
Big day for BYI. Yesterday, approval was granted for Bally Technologies to become Nevada’s first Internet-gambling provider, a proud moment for Bally and the state alike. However, even as we pop the cyber-cork, let’s not forget the risks involved and the fact that no age-verification software ever seems secure enough.
Facebook suggests I ought to “friend” Sue Lowden. Whaddya think? Should I bring a peace offering of poultry?