Wynn Resorts Chairman Steve Wynn returned to the Mirage last month for the first time since selling his company to MGM in 2000, to kick off the 16th annual International Conference on Gambling and Risk Taking, produced by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
In delivering the opening keynote for the conference, Wynn reflected on the model he created when he opened the Mirage in 1989 as a completely new type of resort—one that depended on “the experience” rather than gambling. In his opening message, he commented that since the Mirage opening, success on the Strip has come from creating an experience for the customer, with non-gaming revenues eventually outstripping the casino take.
He also took a jab at millennials, marveling at the millions the young customers dump into Strip nightclubs. “I’m one of those old white guys that think the millennials are sort of short on brains,” Wynn said. “But in the meantime, we’re doing well with them. We put the little darlings in the nightclubs and they get drunk and they give us a ton of money and it’s probably the only part of my business where I have cognitive dissonance. I walk into the clubs and I say to myself either we have attracted every moron in the world, or there’s something about the sound that allows normal people to check their human sensibilities at the door.”
The five-day conference, which attracted around 600 attendees from 30 countries, featured gaming research, with presentation of white papers on a variety of gaming topics. It was founded by the late Dr. William Eadington, an economics professor at the University of Nevada, Reno who was one of the pioneers of gaming business education. Eadington died in 2013 a few months before the 15th conference. But the legacy of the event has been carried on by Bo Bernhard, the executive director of UNLV’s International Gaming Institute.