Billionaire hotel developer Steve Wynn was on hand to toss his support — and the ceremonial first dice — during a sneak preview Sunday of the Downtown Grand.
Arriving with a larger-than-usual security team, Wynn and his wife, Andrea, took part in the hotel-opening dice tradition at the invitation of hotel operator and longtime family friend Seth Schorr, CEO of Fifth Street Gaming.
Wynn and Seth’s father, Marc Schorr, put up $5,000 each. Wynn allowed his British wife to take the first tosses. Her first roll was an eight. The trio crapped out quickly, giving the hotel, the former Lady Luck, its first infusion of cash.
Marc and Janie Schorr proudly recalled their son’s climb up the corporate ladder.
When the family arrived in Las Vegas in 1984 to join Wynn at his first hotel, the Golden Nugget, the Schorrs made the downtown hotel home for 14 months.
“The Meadows School bus would pick up Seth in valet,” Janie said. “His school sandwiches were delivered to our room on a sterling silver plate.
“Seth’s playdays were in the casino. When his sister, Courtney, started roller-skating in the hall, we realized this wasn’t normal and got a home,” she added.
Marc Schorr, Wynn’s top lieutenant for decades before retiring earlier this year, said it was a thrill to see his son be part of the city’s “next generation. I started downtown. We’re passing the baton. Starting at 14, Seth worked in every department until he was 21.”
Seth got involved early when Wynn asked him for input from a 7-year-old point of view.
“Seth made business cards that said, ‘Seth Schorr, vice president of children’s marketing’ and he presented Steve with a list of recommendations,” Janie Schorr said. “I wish I had kept that list.”
Seth recalled his father having him paint a garage at the Golden Nugget in Laughlin, “when I was 15. It was 125 degrees.” It was all part of his rising through the ranks that led to the Downtown Grand, he said.
After the ceremonial craps game, Wynn said he was taken aback at the objections raised by Massachusetts gaming regulators during the bid by Caesars Entertainment to partner with Suffolk Downs racetrack on a $1.2 billion project.
“I was surprised,” Wynn said. “In a way, it was very unexpected.”
“It’s clear in America today the government is sort of after everybody. And whatever problems Caesars is having, it really amounts to nothing when the story is told.”
Caesars Entertainment withdrew from the project when regulators raised concerns about the Las Vegas gaming giant.
The withdrawal led to Caesars Entertaiment dropping out of its partnership with a subsidiary of the Gansevoort Hotel Group, which was to operate the former Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon.
The commission reported a Gansevoort investor has been under scrutiny, though not charged, over alleged ties to Russian organized crime.
He called Gary Loveman and other top Caesars executives “really fine people.”
He added, “I don’t know about money laundering or any of that. Those facts are not available to us. I felt sorry for them, that they were going through that. I’m sure it was very uncomfortable for (them) to be in that position.
“It is what it is. We live in a regulated business. I’ve been at it for 47 years. I’m not sure it’s fair, but in gaming we’re treated differently. In gaming, you’re guilty until you’re proven innocent and in everything else, just the opposite.
“I mentioned when I was in Boston,” Wynn said, “there was some sort of presumption that we had to be vetted to prove that we weren’t bad guys. Some people find that offensive.”
THE SCENE AND HEARD
Rocker Lou Reed, who died Sunday, recorded a duet with The Killers’ Brandon Flowers in August 2007 in New York City. The song, “Tranquilize,” was on the b-side of the “Sawdust” album.
Academy Award winner Charlize Theron, at La Comida Mexican restaurant on Sunday, the final day of the Life Is Beautiful festival. ... Kim Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, rapper Tyga, Pussycat Dolls creator Robin Antin and Kim’s close friend Jonathan Cheban, at Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria &Cucina at The Shops at Crystals on Friday. ... Comedian and actor Pauly Shore, taking in the festival. ... Kanye West, touring the footprint of Life Is Beautiful with co-founder Rehan Choudhry and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh on Friday. ... Cooking demonstration matchups at the festival included Ben McKee of Imagine Dragons, with Jet Tila and Youngblood Hawke with Cat Cora.
THE PUNCH LINE
“German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the U.S. would have to regain her trust after the NSA eavesdropped on her cellphone. You know things are bad when we’re being accused of having boundary issues by Germany.” — Conan O’Brien
Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Reach him at 702-383-0244 or email@example.com. Find more at normclarke.com. Follow @Norm_Clarke on Twitter. “Norm Clarke’s Vegas” airs Thursdays on the “Morning Blend” on KTNV-TV, Channel 13.