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Tilman Fertitta acquires big Wynn Resorts stake

Updated October 31, 2022 - 5:30 pm

Tilman Fertitta has acquired a big ownership stake in Wynn Resorts Ltd., giving him an immediate foothold in the Strip’s casino industry as the billionaire sets out to build a towering resort on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Fertitta acquired 6.9 million shares in Las Vegas-based Wynn, a 6.1 percent stake, according to a filing Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

According to the filing, the “date of event” was Oct. 19 — the same day Fertitta secured approvals to develop a 43-story hotel-casino on the Strip.

Fertitta is now one of the largest shareholders in Wynn, whose stock soared on the news. Shares of Wynn closed Monday at $63.90, up $5.60, or 9.61 percent.

The securities filing did not disclose how much Fertitta paid for his ownership stake, but Wynn’s stock price has tumbled over the past year. It closed Friday at $58.30, down from $90.78 a year earlier.

Wynn spokesman Michael Weaver said the company is aware of Fertitta’s ownership disclosure. A representative for Fertitta declined to comment.

Fertitta, owner and CEO of Houston-based Fertitta Entertainment, oversees a corporate empire that includes dozens of restaurant brands, the NBA’s Houston Rockets and Golden Nugget casinos in Nevada and other states.

He also acquired a chunk of Las Vegas’ famed casino corridor this year, buying 6 acres at the southeast corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Harmon Avenue in June for $270 million. The sale included a restaurant building, a cluster of souvenir shops and a 1960s-era Travelodge motel property that had closed by July.

Fertitta is looking to build an upscale resort on the site. According to Clark County documents, the 2,420-room project would include restaurants, convention space, a spa, wedding chapel, auto showroom and a roughly 2,500-seat theater.

It would also include suites and villas, VIP salons and a bar and lounge for high-limit gamblers, building plans indicate.

On the same day the County Commission approved his resort plans, the county issued three demolition permits to let work crews tear down buildings on Fertitta’s property.

Last week, a spokesperson for Fertitta Entertainment told the Review-Journal that the permits are for a partial demolition to allow certain site work, and that there was no groundbreaking date for the resort yet.

Fertitta’s project site is roughly 1.5 miles south of Wynn’s two luxury hotel towers on Las Vegas Boulevard, Wynn Las Vegas and Encore.

As of March, only three shareholders in Wynn had ownership stakes above 6 percent, according to a securities filing by the casino operator.

A spokesman for the Nevada Gaming Control Board said that once an individual acquires more than 5 percent of a licensed, public gaming corporation, they must notify state regulators in writing and forward all SEC filings.

Most casino industry stocks have slumped this year. Shares in Caesars Entertainment Inc., for instance, closed at $43.73 per share on Monday, down from more than $110 in early November 2021.

MGM Resorts International stock closed at $35.57 on Monday, down from $48.52 on Feb. 9, and shares of Station Casinos parent Red Rock Resorts closed Monday at $41.65, down from about $55 at the end of last year.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter. Review-Journal assistant business editor Richard N. Velotta contributed to this report.

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