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January 27, 2015

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Wynn still critical of Obama administration

Casino developer still concerned about anti-Las Vegas rhetoric

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Steve Wynn

Wynn Resorts

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Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn today used the forum of a telephone conference call about his company's quarterly finances to criticize President Obama.

Critical of the current presidential administration for months, Wynn, chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts, voiced more criticism today in a conference call to investors, analysts and reporters.

“Right now we are more afraid of Washington than we are of the economy. We’ve got people on our backs saying don’t go to Las Vegas which is preposterous,” Wynn said. “People are beginning to ignore some of this bombastic rhetoric from the White House and that’s encouraging.”

Wynn has been vocal with his criticism of President Obama’s remarks on Las Vegas and how it has affected his business since his fourth quarter earnings call in February. Wynn said during the February earnings call since the president made his remarks, State Farm Insurance pulled out of a $5 million convention at his resorts.

Wynn noted during today’s call that small business meetings are still down during mid-week.

“Our senior senator is a Senate Majority Leader. You think that’d we’d have a leg up on this,” Wynn said. “We call Harry (Reid) on the phone and ask for help and he’s very sympathetic.”

Wynn’s calls, along with others from city officials to Reid, the U.S. Senate majority leader, have obviously had some affect. Reid introduced a bill Wednesday to prevent federal agencies from ruling out tourist destinations as places to hold official meetings.

The bill follows outrage from Reid and other lawmakers last week after reports that agencies, acting on guidance dating back to last year and before, were avoiding locations with reputations as tourist destinations because of their reputations.

But Wynn wonders how far the bill will go.

“The president has his own office and his own group of people who agree with him and look at the world just as he does and they don’t listen to anyone from what I’ve heard from my business friends. They invite people down to Washington and tell them. They don’t think or listen to anyone,” Wynn said.

Wynn Las Vegas President Andrew Pascal added that the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority said the LVCVA has done “a terrific job” with marketing and public relations campaigns to ease the stigma that Las Vegas isn’t a place to do business. Pascal is a member of the LVCVA board of directors.

Las Vegas businesses aren’t the only ones who are suffering under the current administration; it’s felt nationwide, Wynn said.

“We’ve got the government on our back. Not just Las Vegas but all business. There’s a very definite bias in this administration that business is bad,” Wynn said. “I don’t know how long it’s going to take for them to get over this but it’s awful.”

Wynn, whose company operates Wynn Macau and is in the development stages of Encore Macau, praised the special administrative region of the People's Republic of China for their protection of their citizens and acceptance of business enterprises. The casino operator called Macau “a great place to do business with none of the anxieties we have at the present time in America.”

“In America, we have a government that has decided anybody who creates jobs must be bad; that the job creators must have a target on their back. What a remarkable misunderstanding,” Wynn said. “That’s not the case in Macau and it’s not the case in The People’s Republic of China and maybe we can all learn a lesson on what happens there.”

Wynn was also critical of President Obama’s health care proposal, calling the plan a “train wreck.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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