Steve Wynn Is an Ask-Me-Anything-and-I'll-Tell-You Kind of Guy, God Bless Him

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Credit Bruce Mohl with producing the most interesting and lively article on our state’s entry into the wonderful world of casinos: a blunt-from-the-first-word interview with Steve Wynn in the latest edition of CommonWealth Magazine,

Mohl is the magazine’s editor and a former State House bureau chief for the Boston Globe, where he labored with distinction for three decades.  He traveled to Las Vegas to grill Wynn at his eye-popping, art-laden villa.
Wynn, who wants to build a casino on a Mystic River-front site in Everett, is battling the folks at Suffolk Downs and their gaming partner, Mohegan Sun, for the sole available eastern Massachusetts casino license.

Even if you could not care less about casinos, you should read this article because it is an all-too-rare example of a CEO speaking fearlessly on the record.  If you’re sick of corporate honchos always talking in euphemisms and hiding their true thoughts behind instantly forgettable generalities, the Mohl-Wynn interview is just what the doctor ordered.

Consider, for example, Wynn’s comments about Joe O’Donnell, who grew up in Everett and achieved fabulous success in business.  O’Donnell’s an icon in Everett.  He also happens to be a principal of the Suffolk Downs casino team.  
“The conventional wisdom all along in Massachusetts was that Suffolk Downs was going to get the license.  Did you hear that?” Mohl asks.

“Joe O’Donnell,” Wynn says, “let everyone know from day one that Boston was his.  [He puts on a Boston accent.]  ‘I’m the guy from Harvard.  Suffolk Downs?  Don’t worry about it.’  When I was in Foxborough, I bumped into Joe one day.  He said, I wish it had been you with me, Steve.  Total confidence.  Very successful man.  A man of respect.  He let everyone know – perhaps it was a strategy to discourage competition – that Boston was his.  And there isn’t anyone in America in my industry who wasn’t told that one way or another by him and [fellow Suffolk investor] Richard Fields.  They laughed at me.  And one of their partners was Steve Roth from Vornado.  He came on my boat and he said to me, we’re going to kick your ass.  He actually said that to me.”
Mohl asks, “Have you had any more dealings with O’Donnell?”

Wynn says, “When we came to Everett, I saw O’Donnell and he gave me the same speech.  Steve, you’re going to lose, you’ve got the wrong site.  I wish you had been with me, but you’ve got no chance.  When Caesar’s took a hike, or got tossed, I called him.  He said, what took you so long?  I said, what do you mean?  He said, I thought you’d have been here already.  This is your chance.  Look, I said, I’m calling because I wanted to figure out what your deal is.  He said have your guy talk to my guy, we’ll tell you everything.  He said it’s a good thing you’re calling me because you have no chance where you are.  The next day I called him back and he asked me, when are you going to withdraw?  I said, based on our conversation yesterday, I am calling to withdraw my inquiry to you.   I am not withdrawing from Everett.  Sorry.  Oh well, he said, you’ve got a problem. ..”

The Mohl-Wynn colloquy may be found at:


No comments:

Post a Comment