Squabbling Casino Billionaires Square Up in the Desert

Posted on May 19th, 2009

In the red corner is Sheldon Adelson….. and in the even redder corner is Steve Wynn. The two Alpha male casino billionaires are steaming from the ears- having been squabbling for almost 20 years, these titans of the casino industry seem to be squaring up for a Sumo Basho.

Forget the famous Sumo fighter Tokoyama- head to Vegas and watch these casino boys screw down each other´s metaphorical kesho-mawashis knots. Their voice have been going up the octaves and the salt is being lobbed over the shoulders.

Adelson, Planet Earth´s 12th-richest person, has a problem with the eruptions emanating from Wynn´s backyard- the fake volcano that is – from Señor Wynn´s Mirage hotel, which is belching out hot air and making bubbly noises in close proximity to his neighbour. Wynn, sitting at 250 odd on the rich list- has hit back saying that Adelson is skimping on car parking space and all of his punters are parking for free at his gaff. Adelson has referred to Wynn as an “egomaniac”. Wynn countered that Adelson has an “inferiority complex”. New balls please!

Well neighbours often fight I suppose, but this tiff is far more entertaining that the usual disagreement about drying your saggy pants over the next door neighbour´s fence.

Adelson built, his $US1.5 billion Venetian complex within a gnat´s whisker of Wynn´s Mirage. And he´s just recently opened the $US1.9 billion Palazzo next to the Wynn Las Vegas.

Other casino bazillionaires in the desert town who are ripe for some argy bargy include Kirk Kerkorian and brothers Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta. Kerkorian and his company MGM Mirage own more than 50% of the hotel rooms on The Strip. He owns The Mirage, which used to be one of Wynn´s, and the Mandalay Bay which he bought for a mere $US7.9 billion in 2004.

The Fertittas have a slightly different strategy and own seventeen casinos in the Las Vegas suburbs. They are both worth around $US1.3 billion each.

And then there´s Macau of course, now the world’s top gambling town in terms of revenue and bets placed.

Stanley Ho used to be the Silverback in town thanks to a monopoly that he enjoyed for forty odd years. His pile of casino chips currently stands at around $US8 billion. But there are some “gweilos” or “foreign devils” muscling into his patch. Enter Mr Wynn and Mr Adelson who were the first to get the keys to the city. Ho still owns 18 of the region’s 27 casinos, but the new boys are building fast and they are building big. Adelson´s Macau Venetian complex is the biggest casino in the world. It even makes the Las Vegas one look like a Blackpool amusement arcade on a Monday morning in January.

Adelson plans to build 13 hotels in the area and the two are also sniffing around Singapore which is opening up to gambling. Adelson’s won Singapore´s first gambling license and is building the Marina Bay Sands, but don´t hold your breath- there´ll be more to come on this island state, you can be sure of it.

They are both taking up Taekwondo and Origami in anticipation.


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