And so began the transformation of the Vegas Strip. While Wynn was not the only mogul in town, the theme hotels with their extraordinary delights arrived in a hurry.
"Where else could you get away with such, such outrageous things," asked Wynn. "In this wacky city, they've got the pyramid of Egypt there at Luxor, next to King Arthur and the Excalibur. And next to that is New York, New York. … Now, in any other city, you'd get arrested for that!"
Vegas, with its over-the-top glitz and glamour, has been called tacky and even trashy. But, it also had appeal, not just to adults, but to their kids. Wynn, however, said it was never his intention to draw children.
"This is for the parents," he said. "I never meant to attract children. What we did do, and we should do, is realize that families often travel together, and, therefore, the hotel should be user-friendly to everybody. But, in terms of my pitch, my goal is for you — I'm looking for parents — not children."
If Wynn was a bit defensive about having helped create a family-friendly Las Vegas, it is partly because the city can benefit from having an edge.
"There has been a mystique about this city, and the mafia, that has been good for Vegas in many respects," Wynn admitted. "And I said to the Resort Association one day … 'Now, look you guys, we've got to stop complaining about people thinking that we've hooked up with the mafia, because if we convince everybody that we really are like Des Moines, no one is going to come here anymore.' Be careful what you wish for."
Now, Donald Trump is coming to town.
"He's going to be our neighbor across the street," said Wynn. "Listen, wherever this guy goes … the Trumpster — he brings excitement, a lot of fanfare and ballyhoo. If you can't do that in Las Vegas, where in the hell can you do it? So, welcome to town, Donald. It's nice to have you here. Stir up as much of a hornet's nest as you can."
Wynn and Trump have had a notoriously tempestuous relationship. Wynn reportedly called Trump "twinkle toes," and Trump called Wynn "psychotic," among other things.
"He's a colorful, one-off personality," said Wynn. "I think everyone in America would agree that there's no one like Donald Trump, that we've ever seen before. It's doubtful that we'll ever see it again. He's bigger than life. He loves the role, and the position he's made for himself … he enjoys creating this caricature, and he's benefited from it, and the more power to him for that."
While Wynn rekindled his relationship with Trump, he and his wife shifted decisively in the world of politics.
In 2004, the Wynns publicly supported George Bush in the presidential election. Now, Elaine Wynn is outspoken in her support for Democratic front-runner Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.
"I think he has the capacity for dynamic leadership," she said. "I think that he is intellectually gifted — his background testifies to that. … I want to get behind a candidate who can espouse certain things that I believe in."
Her husband remains undecided.