Steve is Breaking New Ground Again – Encore Player’s Club


Steve Wynn has been a trendsetter and visionary for at least 25 years. One could argue that he has been setting trends in gaming since he entered Atlantic City and reshaped casino financing and casino operations, thirty-seven years ago. Atlantic City aside, Steve’s return to Las Vegas was momentous and a game changer. Since the Mirage opened in 1989, Steve Wynn has over and over created a model for a successful casino; after the Mirage, Wynn built Treasure Island, Bellagio, Wynn and Encore, each a success and each copied in one way or another by the other Strip operators. His latest move is not quite as grand as those properties, but it could prove to be just as significant.

Wynn, like everyone else in gaming is trying to find the key to developing the next generation of casino gamblers. The baby boomers are aging and they will need to be replaced; Millennials are the heir apparent, but industry executives don’t know what Millennials will want in a casino when they are ready to go out a’gambling. The slot manufacturers are desperately trying to find a way to replace slot machines with a device that will attract that next generation player using the video games they currently play. The casinos are waiting for those games, but in the meantime looking elsewhere for other activities that will attract that generation. The trick is to match their use of technology and social media to the casino world – not an easy trick to perform. Steve Wynn is putting his creative genius to work on the task.

Wynn Las Vegas is hoping to introduce “a new era in casino gaming” December 19 with the launch of Encore Player’s Club. The club is being billed as “distinctive social space.” There will be 5000 square feet of table games, interactive television sets, billiards, iPhone sports betting, specialized food and drinks, all designed with the Millennials in mind. A Wynn spokesman said that for years all Strip casinos had been designed using the same mold and formula, but now Wynn is breaking that mold.

“Wynn Las Vegas will be the first to offer a new experience in gaming and entertainment on the casino floor by creating a distinctive social space to gamble with friends, watch the game or hang out before hitting the club.” Imagine you’re chilling with a few friends and 23 HD televisions with 56-inch screens, at interactive tables surrounded by roulette, craps, blackjack and slots. You might grab your phone to snap a pic of the DJ and make some mobile sports bets while watching multiple games. Erin Ryan, Las Vegas Sun, 12-1-15

The comments posted on the story are almost as interesting as the story itself. The vast majority of the comments panned the idea; the Millennials commenting said, “you people just don’t gets it”; others said Wynn was just copying the Lavo Casino Club in the Palazzo; and a few said that Millennials had no money and were not worth the effort, any effort. No one thought Wynn was on the right track and that is an old story.

The star-studded Italian restaurant Lavo in Palazzo will create a new nightlife and gaming experience where guests can enjoy a DJ and dancing along with amenities not offered in typical nightclubs or on the casino floor, including ordering from the Lavo menu and cocktails from Lavo’s mixology menu served direct to the gaming table from a butler’s cart and watching sporting events on flat-screen televisions. Robin Leach, Las Vegas Sun, 8-20-15

Every time Wynn breaks ground the pundits jump up to point out his idea simply cannot succeed. He spends too much money, he fails to stick to the tried and true formulas and besides he is arrogant. In the beginning I bought into those arguments; the Mirage had to fail – it would take a million dollars a day just to pay the bills and no casino had ever made that much money, nor could any casino ever do it. However, the critics were all wrong; the Mirage was an overwhelming financial success. Every time Wynn opened a new property it generated comparable criticisms. Do you remember the thinking on the dancing fountains at the Bellagio? The critics attacked them with a vengeance; they were too expensive and would do nothing to pull the Strip gawkers into the casino. And, even if the people strolling up and down the Strip did come inside they did not have enough money to make the fountains and the other amenities like the elaborate flower gardens and aquariums worthwhile. Today, those fountains are in the top instagrammed places in the country. They attract more public and media attention than any building on the Strip – and that is what Steve said they would do.

None of that or any of the other dozens of doubt defying innovations of Wynn guarantees his success this time. Steve Wynn is 73 years old and his creativity might have slipped a little; but maybe it has not slipped and just maybe Steve Wynn is going to demonstrate that he is the industry’s resident genius. People of his capabilities do not come along often. I am not going to make any predictions about Steve’s Encore Player’s Club or the future of Millennials as casino gamblers, but Steve Wynn has his own history on his side and I have never yet been right when I predicted he would fail. You can be certain of one thing, if his social space casino works, it will be copied by the rest of the industry.

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