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Controversy won’t impede Wynn development plans, official says

Updated January 30, 2018 - 8:51 pm

Wynn Resorts completed its purchase of the Alon site on the Strip and says the controversy engulfing its top boss is not expected to change its development plans.

Spokesman Michael Weaver confirmed Tuesday that the casino operator had closed its purchase of the Alon project site, which makes up the bulk of a land acquisition it announced last month. Wynn plans to build a hotel there called Wynn West.

Australia’s Crown Resorts announced Monday that its sale of the Alon property had closed and that it had sold the spread for $300 million. Crown’s share of the proceeds, “after taking into account minority interests,” is around $264 million, the company said.

Wynn, led by now-embattled Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn, announced in December that it was acquiring about 38 acres of land just north of Fashion Show mall for $336 million. The bulk of its purchase was the 34.6-acre Alon site, but it’s also getting 3.6 acres next to Trump International from TI casino owner Phil Ruffin.

Wynn had said it expected to close the deal this quarter.

Ruffin’s sale is expected to be completed in February, TI’s senior vice president of communications, Michelle Knoll, said in a statement.

Crown wanted to build the 1,100-room Alon Las Vegas but bailed on the project in late 2016. Ruffin’s site was supposed to have a second Trump International tower, but he and partner Donald Trump never built it.

Wynn was expected to take full control of the Alon site but not full ownership. It would purchase 18.4 acres from Crown and lease the remaining 16.2 acres from the Elardi family, as Crown did.

In an earnings call Jan. 22, Steve Wynn outlined plans for a 2,000- to 3,000-room hotel at Wynn West and said he wanted to move quickly on the project.

Four days later, The Wall Street Journal reported that the billionaire casino developer had a decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct. The paper said it had contacted more than 150 people who work or had worked for Wynn, and it reported that he pressured employees to perform sex acts. He has called the allegations “preposterous.”

The fallout has been swift. Since the story was published, Wynn resigned as the Republican National Committee finance chairman; some Republicans in Congress said they would give political contributions from him to charity; and the Republican Governors Association canceled its 2020 conference at Wynn Las Vegas.

Macau’s gambling regulator also met with Wynn management to find out more; the Nevada Gaming Control Board confirmed it would launch an inquiry; Massachusetts’ casino regulator said its Investigations and Enforcement Bureau would launch a review “to determine the appropriate next steps”; and Wynn Resorts disclosed that its board of directors had formed a special committee to investigate allegations.

Asked whether the Journal story has affected Wynn West, spokesman Weaver said the company “anticipates no changes in its development plans. As you know, we are already under construction for Wynn Paradise Park.”

Paradise Park would replace the golf course behind the Wynn Las Vegas and Encore resorts with a 47-story hotel and 38-acre lagoon.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

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