Steve Wynn's Vegas Vision Turned Into Reality


"Elaine and I are privileged to be friends with George and Barbara, the father and mother," said Wynn. "I supported the son because he's the father's son, and I thought and believed that he had the same good qualities of his dad. … So, yes, I did support the president. But, his time is now coming to an end, and we face a world much more complex than he faced. Things have spiraled during the period."

Wynn's Father — a Gambling Addict

Celebrity feuds and politics aside, gambling generates billions of dollars every year. The irony? Wynn's father was addicted to gambling. And so was Elaine's.

Wynn was about to head to law school when his father died, leaving the family in deep debt. Instead of going to school, Wynn gave up his spot at Yale, and set out to make money. He knew gambling, which is how he and Elaine ended up living in Las Vegas at the Desert Inn. They never left.

Elaine and Wynn's fathers were friends and gambling buddies. "That's how Elaine and I met," said Wynn. "Our fathers were playing gin or pinochle together at the Fontainebleau, and we went on our first date with our parents."

Forty-four years, seven hotels, two children and seven grandchildren later, Elaine is still by his side. Neither she nor her husband are much interested in gambling, themselves. In fact, Wynn's attitude is famously cynical. He admits the only way to make money in a casino is "to own one."

Having said that, the Wynns do not apologize for the fact that gambling is at the heart of their empire. Nor do they worry that they may be helping to turn recreational gamblers into problem gamblers.

"It was a compulsion that grips 2 [percent] or 3 percent of the people," said Wynn. "Like the proclivity for drugs or alcohol, and compulsive gambling is a compulsion. It is a thing that a person has a genetic disposition, and there's not much you can do about it. They're going to do it one way or another, whether or not there's a casino."

Elaine Wynn — 'A Steady Personality'

Wynn's casinos are deeply influenced by his wife. Her glamorous office is right next to his.

"She has a role here," said Wynn. "If people think I'm stupid at a particular moment, they'll be tactful and go to Elaine for a course correction."

"I wish that they'd have enough gumption to tell me that I'm stupid to my face," Wynn continued. "I wouldn't mind. I like a good argument. But, Elaine [has a] steady personality. Same thing she had when she was in high school. … She was the way she is now when she was 18."

Wynn is also known to have a notoriously bad temper. "I'm a passionate person, and passionate people believe in things, and they're excitable. Fortunately, most people of passion get over it, and if they do behave poorly, apologize."

Besides business, Wynn is also passionate about fine paintings. He amassed an extraordinary art collection at the Bellagio, and he still has a private collection worth hundreds of millions of dollars. A Vermeer, hanging in his office, is one of only 39 Vermeers in the world.

Wynn also recently purchased the largest pear-shaped diamond in the world — 231 carats.

Wynn's Image

"People come to expect, with our name and our extended brand, that we represent quality and refinement," said Elaine. "So, everything that we do, we hope extends that feeling and that thought. So, we couldn't have some little teeny thing. … We aren't into starter hotels or starter diamonds."

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