NEW ORLEANS — All across this recession-weary country on
Wednesday, Americans of every rank and station lined up at convenience stores
and delis, placed their hard-earned dollars on countertops and took part in a
venerated national tradition: trying to get really rich without doing anything.
“You want to retire tomorrow?” Vijay Patel asked his customers at Lanzilli’s
Groceria in East Boston, where Powerball tickets were constantly being churned
out by the lottery machines. “A lot of action today. Good luck.”
Early Thursday, Powerball officials announced that tickets sold in Missouri and
Arizona matched all six numbers to win $579.9 million, the second-largest
lottery jackpot in United States history. In March, the Mega Millions prize was
$656 million, which was and still is, in the words of Michael Jones, the
superintendent of the Illinois Lottery, the “largest lottery prize in the
history of the solar system.”
The winning numbers drawn on Wednesday night were 5, 16, 22, 23, 29, and a
Powerball of 6.
Arizona lottery officials said they had no information on that state’s winner or
winners but would announce where the ticket was sold during a news conference on
Thursday, The Associated Press reported. Lottery officials in Missouri did not
immediately respond to The A.P.
The record-breaking sums are of such a scale that they seem to muddle a person’s
ability to calculate probabilities. A woman in Denver bought $450 in tickets on
Tuesday. People in Nevada, which does not participate in Powerball, have been
calling the Arizona Last Stop, a bar/restaurant/gas station right across the
state line, to ask about sending busloads of ticket buyers from Las Vegas.
On Wednesday alone, Floridians had spent more than $10 million by 2 p.m. on
Powerball tickets. So many people had bought tickets nationwide, said David
Bishop, a spokesman for the Florida Lottery, that there was a 75 percent chance
that one or more of the combinations picked will match the combination drawn on
Most of the buyers interviewed on Wednesday acknowledged that their chances were
not especially good.
A standard practice in news media coverage is to compare lottery odds
unfavorably with odds of dying in peculiar ways (shark attack, lightning), but
even that morbid exercise does not do justice to the long shot. The odds of
picking the winning numbers in Wednesday’s drawing were longer than the odds of
picking an American man completely at random and having him happen to be Alan
Granted, the odds were slightly better than they were last year. This year, the
officials who oversee Powerball, a game consisting of five numbered white balls
and one red ball, reduced the number of red balls to 35 from 39. They also
doubled the price of a ticket to $2, but the increase in the size of the jackpot
has apparently overcome any sticker shock from the new, higher-priced tickets.
There is math, and there is wishful thinking. The contest between the two is not
“It only takes one to win,” said Katherine Scott, amid the lunch-hour traffic at
a 7-Eleven in Chicago. “I bought two.”
Ken Menno, who has been buying Powerball tickets every week for years, bought
five on Wednesday morning at a Shell station in Denver.
“If I win, I’m going to buy this joint,” he said. “And send everyone here on a
Lines were particularly long in places that sat just over the line from the few
states that do not participate in Powerball, places like the Purple Cow
convenience store in Slidell, La., a few minutes’ drive from Mississippi.
And some people seem to have decided that certain stores are just luckier than
One of the three winning tickets from the $656 million Mega Millions prize was
sold at the MotoMart convenience store in Red Bud, Ill., about an hour southeast
of St. Louis. The electronic marquee outside on Wednesday read “Lightning can
strike twice!” which is inarguable. Enough people believed it could strike twice
at this MotoMart that the store doubled the number of working staff members to
accommodate the rush.
“It’s constant traffic,” said Denise Metzger, the manager. She declined to
release her sales numbers because they were so high she feared she would be
Some buyers, like Katie Flom, 28, who works at an advertising agency in Chicago,
still had rather ill-formed ideas of what to do with all of that money.
“I’d first buy a plane ticket somewhere warm and then figure it out from there,”
But she appeared to be in the minority.
Despite the long odds and the cautionary tales about past winners, most people
knew exactly what they would do, the bills they would pay, the student debt they
would retire, the charity they would start or the car they would finally send to
Outside the Viva Deli in East Harlem in New York, Manny Colon talked of buying
his two daughters a house and setting aside college tuition for grandchildren
and great-grandchildren. “They’re the ones that are coming up,” said Mr. Colon,
a retired doorman, smiling at his wife of 61 years. “We’re all right.”
His wife, Gloria, nodded. Then, she added: “I would like to go to Hawaii.”
Reporting was contributed by Jess Bidgood in Boston,
The New York Times
By KATIE ZEZIMA
gasoline prices shot up this year, Peggy Seemann thought about saving the $10
she spends weekly on lottery tickets.
But the prospect that the $10 could become $100 million or more was too
appealing. So rather than stop buying Mega Millions tickets, Ms. Seemann, 50,
who lives in suburban Chicago and works in advertising sales for a financial Web
site, saved money instead by packing her lunch a few days a week, keeping alive
her dreams of hitting a jackpot and retiring as a multimillionaire.
“With companies tightening and not giving cost-of-living increases, you have to
try to make money elsewhere,” she said, though conceding, “It might be
Many state lotteries across the country are experiencing record sales, driven in
part by intense marketing but also by people like Ms. Seemann who are trying to
turn a lottery ticket into a ticket out of hard times.
“When people view themselves as doing worse financially, then that motivates
them to purchase lottery tickets,” said Emily Haisley, a postdoctoral associate
at the Yale School of Management who in July published a research paper on
lotteries in The Journal of Behavioral Decision Making. “People look to the
lottery to get back to where they were financially.”
Of the 42 states with lotteries, at least 29 reported increased sales in their
most recent fiscal year. And of those 29, at least 22, including New York, New
Jersey and Connecticut, set sales records. Further, sales in some states are on
a pace to finish higher still in the current year.
“I was surprised, because I thought with gas prices up and people not leaving
the pump to go into the stores, we’d see a greater impact” on the downside, said
Jodie Winnett, acting superintendent of the Illinois Lottery, whose sales
increased 3 percent in the last fiscal year and are doing even better this year.
Others are not at all surprised.
Rebecca Hargrove, president of the Tennessee Lottery, said that in her 25 years
working in lotteries, “I’ve noticed that if there’s a recession or a downturn in
the economy, people cut back: it might be on the new car, the new house or the
“But the average player spends $3 to $5 a week on lottery tickets,” Ms. Hargrove
said, “and it’s a pretty benign purchase.”
John Mikesell, a professor of public finance and policy analysis at Indiana
University, published a study in 1994 showing that from 1983 to 1991, lottery
sales tended to rise with unemployment rates.
“The findings were that in slump periods, lotteries historically have gotten a
little bump upward,” said Professor Mikesell, who has not analyzed recent
lottery data. “It’s taking a shot at getting some relief in hard times. It’s
usually not a good gamble, but it’s a dollar, and if they happen to accidentally
hit it, it may well change their lives.”
To be sure, other factors as well are pushing lottery sales. Lottery directors
have spent the last few years heavily marketing their products through greater
presence in stores, new games and partnerships with sports teams and television
Among their new offerings are $20 and $50 scratch-off tickets that provide
higher payouts, as well as additional fast-paced electronic games, part of the
goal being to draw players who might otherwise head to a casino. Indeed, New
York State’s 10 percent increase in lottery sales in the last fiscal year was
due largely to the introduction of more video lottery terminals.
“We’re going after discretionary entertainment dollars,” said Anne M. Noble,
president of the Connecticut Lottery, whose sales increase last year was 4.3
percent. “Let’s keep it fresh, keep it fun, encourage people to play in
moderation and use the money they do have.”
In Massachusetts, where the per-capita sales volume last year was $707, the
highest in the country, officials rolled out a $20 instant-win ticket in
September, partly in hopes of appealing to gamblers who might be tempted to go
to one of the two casinos in neighboring Connecticut.
It seems to have worked. Thanks in part to the introduction of the ticket, the
Massachusetts Lottery achieved a record $4.7 billion in sales for the 12 months
ended June 30, compared with $4.4 billion for the year before, and sales have
continued to rise in the two months since the end of the fiscal year.
Drawing those casino players to the lotteries has been crucial. Though experts
say casino gambling and lotteries have both been historically recession-proof,
high gasoline and food prices have contributed to a revenue decline experienced
this year by gambling destinations including Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
(Atlantic City did record a slight rise in August.)
“The lotteries are on every street corner, and you do have to travel a bit to
get to a casino as a general rule,” said John Kindt, a professor of business
administration at the University of Illinois who has studied lotteries. “The
accessibility of the lotteries is a plus for them. They’re in everybody’s
The higher sales of the current economic downturn have generally drawn higher
net revenue along with them, in continuation of a longer trend. A study issued
in June by the Rockefeller Institute of Government, a research arm of the State
University of New York, found that lottery revenue had grown steadily over the
last 10 years, with the highest growth rates during the nation’s last recession,
Increased lottery returns do little to offset declines in larger sources of
revenue, like sales and income taxes, that have forced some states to impose
hiring freezes, layoffs and wage reductions during the current downturn. “If
your personal income tax is weak or sales tax is weak, the lottery isn’t enough
to make up for that,” said Scott D. Pattison, executive director of the National
Association of State Budget Officers. “But any revenue that is doing well, or at
least not too bad, certainly helps.”
Somewhat incongruously, there is a thought that the hard times contributing to
the lottery sales boom may well bring about its demise: if the economic slump
continues, or even deepens, the thinking goes, many players may at last have had
No one can know, of course, whether that reversal will be fully realized. But a
survey of regular players by Independent Lottery Research, a consulting firm
based in Chicago, found last month that 20 percent of them were already playing
less or buying less expensive tickets.
So lottery directors are girding for the possibility of their own hard times,
and that means staying innovative. To keep players buying, Buddy W. Roogow,
director of the Maryland Lottery, is partnering with sports teams — a winning
player may get tickets to a home-team game, for instance, rather than cash — and
has introduced a simulated-racetrack game. “We have a challenge ahead of us,”
Mr. Roogow said.
For now, anyway, Sheyda Belli, 38, a human resources director in Aliquippa, Pa.,
continues playing the lottery, though she and her husband tightened their belts
by canceling their summer vacation and cutting back on all manner of other
expenses, including cable television and eating out.
“I always joke with my husband that I’m a winner,” Ms Belli said, “until they
tell me I’m not.”
The other day Lou Mott, who owns a convenience store in Aliquippa, a town that
has struggled since its steel mills closed in the 1980s, sold tickets to about
40 people in the 45 minutes before the state lottery numbers were broadcast.
Most spent $10 or more each.
Though Mr. Mott shakes his head in bewilderment at some of his repeat customers,
including one retired woman who spends up to several hundred dollars a day on
scratch-off tickets, he understands the motivation.
“I guess everyone is looking for a rainbow,” he said.
Catrin Einhorn contributed reporting from Chicago,
STEVE WYNN casually plops a 231-carat, plum-size, pear-shaped diamond into my
greedy little paw. Seated in his office in the Wynn casino resort here, and
flanked by two German shepherds, he won’t tell me how much he paid for his rock.
But he quickly points out that it’s better than a 218-carat diamond that the
godfather of Chinese gambling, Stanley Ho, displays in one of his casinos in
“I turned that diamond down,” Mr. Wynn allows, before asking if I’ve toyed with
his bauble long enough and prying it from my hands.
The give and the take. The grand gesture. The over-the-top glitz. The invocation
of magic in a brew of 24/7 gambling, resort excess, ultrahigh-end shopping, fine
dining and routine pampering. These are all part and parcel of a toolkit toted
around for decades by the man credited with changing the landscape of the Strip
and bringing a semblance of class to Sin City.
Later this year, Mr. Wynn, 66, will open his latest project: the $2.3 billion
Encore casino resort, a fantasy land featuring 2,034 luxury suites, a
glass-encased casino overlooking several pools, and penthouse baccarat tables
for high rollers.
The Encore is also an outsize gamble by a man who has made a lucrative,
freewheeling career out of such moves, and it comes just as an economic malaise
that has been seeping across the country is starting to slam the gambling
Like other businesses dependent on consumers and consumption to make a fast
buck, the gambling trade looks particularly vulnerable.
While revelers still fill the streets here and can be found even on a hot summer
afternoon pulling slot machine levers, conventioneers are spending much less
time in the city and vacationers are shelling out less on restaurants,
nightclubs and gambling than they did last year.
“The recession we’re seeing in the United States is affecting Las Vegas more
this time around than in any previous cycle,” says Dennis I. Forst, a gambling
analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets.
Nervous investors have already pummeled casino stocks. The share price of the
largest publicly traded casino company, Las Vegas Sands, headed by Sheldon
Adelson, has plunged almost 70 percent from its 52-week high. The stock of
another big company, MGM Mirage (which, along with its majority shareholder,
Kirk Kerkorian, bought Mr. Wynn’s old company eight years ago), has fallen by
almost exactly the same amount.
Las Vegas Sands and MGM Mirage are also hobbled by the fact that they are
undertaking huge and expensive hotel casino developments in China and Las Vegas,
respectively, that have investors worried about rising debt levels on their
MGM, for example, has its $9.2 billion CityCenter development under way here. It
boasts as many as 8,000 construction workers erecting seven high-rise buildings
on 76 acres. Projected to be completed late next year, CityCenter is to be a
densely organized “city within a city” with a casino, luxury hotel properties,
numerous luxury retailers and about 2,650 condominium residences — yet another
megaproject in a town that is already bursting at the seams and has led the
nation’s housing downturn.
On Friday, Boyd Gaming, which owns several middle-market casinos here and
co-owns the more upscale Borgata in Atlantic City, said it was delaying
construction of a partially built, multibillion-dollar casino on the Strip. The
Boyd development is a sprawling endeavor undertaken in partnership with the
Morgans Hotel Group. Boyd cited the credit crisis and the “challenging economic
conditions” as reasons for the delay. Boyd’s stock is down 73 percent over the
But even smaller companies operating in Atlantic City and elsewhere are hurting:
shares of Pinnacle Entertainment are down 62 percent over the last year, Riviera
Holdings is down 73 percent and Trump Entertainment Resorts is off 83 percent.
Although the stock of Mr. Wynn’s company, Wynn Resorts, has fallen 45 percent,
it is faring much better than those of his rivals. And despite the bleak times
facing Las Vegas, Mr. Wynn has a rather devil-may-care demeanor when asked about
“What am I doing opening one of these places in a bad economy?” he asks, leaning
forward in his chair. He answers his own question by strumming his lips like a
banjo, making a noise that one of his seven grandchildren might make if they
were confused, before laughing uproariously.
Joking aside, Mr. Wynn, one of the most magnetic and polarizing figures in the
gambling industry, has always thrown himself into his ventures with passion and
purpose. And even when embellishing his thoughts with Hollywood-like bravado, he
is a wily, singular competitor who, after making hundreds of millions of dollars
here, rolled the dice again. He now owns stock valued at about $2.3 billion.
“You saw all of these other people come out to Las Vegas and say, ‘We’ll just
knock off a fully integrated destination resort. Nothing to it; I’ve done other
businesses,’ ” he says, snapping his fingers blithely. Then he brings his voice
down to a stage whisper worthy of Dirty Harry. “Uh, not so fast, Rodriguez. I
don’t think so.”
ASKED whether Las Vegas, in its pell-mell rush to court the more
recession-resistant luxury market, could be building too many luxury properties
like CityCenter, Mr. Wynn stops the conversation cold.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Who said that is the luxury market?” he asks, his
voice rising. “The luxury market in Las Vegas is Bellagio and Wynn. Period. You
can look at the average room rate. We’re in one category, and they’re a notch
“Everybody says they’re fancy and beautiful, but the question is, who is
delivering five-star service?” he adds.
At a cost of $2.7 billion, the Wynn, which opened in 2005, is all about opulent
grandeur. It has 2,716 rooms, 18 restaurants, a 45-foot waterfall cascading down
a massive artificial mountain, and a shopping promenade featuring upscale brands
like Chanel, Dior and Louis Vuitton as well as a Ferrari and Maserati
dealership. (The company says the site sells 70 Maseratis each year.)
Nearly everything — from the undulating parasols overlooking a bar to the
chandeliers and the chairs — is designed especially for the hotel, says Roger
Thomas, who has created the interior of many of Mr. Wynn’s hotels.
“I don’t even like color out of a box,” Mr. Thomas says. So he customized the
wall colors. When he was told he couldn’t put chandeliers over the gambling
tables because they would block security cameras, he figured out a way to fit
cameras inside the chandeliers.
For his part, Mr. Wynn may be sanguine about the challenges facing Las Vegas and
the economic downturn looming over the town because he has faced down naysayers
and financial challenges before.
When he opened the Mirage in 1989, the country’s economy was struggling and
critics predicted he would lose his shirt. Instead, the Mirage, with white
tigers, a shark tank and an erupting volcano, became an instant tourist draw and
a financial success.
Some Wall Street analysts say Mr. Wynn is in the catbird seat because his
company’s debt hasn’t mounted as his rivals’ has, and because his focus on the
jet set has so far insulated his bottom line.
“Unlike Sands and MGM, investors aren’t really that concerned about Wynn’s
balance sheet,” says Bill Lerner, an equity analyst at Deutsche Bank. Wynn
Resorts doesn’t need to raise money to finish current projects in Las Vegas or
China, he says, adding that the company is “underleveraged, relatively
speaking.” Unlike MGM and Sands, Wynn Resorts doesn’t have “big development
pipelines” in the works, he says.
What does worry investors about Wynn Resorts, Mr. Lerner says, is the concern
“that the high-end consumer may ultimately crack,” he says. “We don’t see much
evidence of that yet.”
Still, the numbers might be troubling. Wynn Resorts recently reported a steep
drop in net casino revenue in Las Vegas, while revenue per available room, a
much-watched gauge, slipped 3 percent. Those results were offset by huge casino
revenue gains in Macao, where Mr. Wynn expects to open his second casino hotel,
Encore at Wynn Macau, in early 2010.
“Sure, I wish it was a boom time. You like to open up when everybody is ripping
and roaring,” says Mr. Wynn, speaking of the Encore’s Las Vegas opening later
this year. But, he adds, his properties are meant to last for decades. “Who
cares if the opening is slow?”
BEFORE he opens Encore, Mr. Wynn is still fussing over details at the flagship
hotel. He fumes at a Wynn Resorts ad in a local newspaper because it’s not the
right shade of red. “Tell them we won’t pay for it,” he snarls at an employee.
In a meeting with his chief architect, DeRuyter Butler, he scrutinizes a
prototype of a fence he wants to build around the Wynn Resorts property to keep
gawkers from sitting on the grass or, even worse, changing babies’ diapers there
(which they’ve been know to do, he says).
And the wind: It’s whistling through the elevators in his lobby and driving him
nuts. Alternating between pounding his fist on the desk and grumbling under his
breath, Mr. Wynn makes his point: how can we be a top-notch hotel and have our
guests being blown all over the place?
He doesn’t brook the notion that he might be a micromanager, because all the
little things add up when it comes to serving and pleasing his customers.
“Attention to detail? This is what we do,” he says, crediting his fellow
“dreamers and schemers” who work with him for sharing his vision and corporate
culture — most notably his wife, Elaine, to whom he’s been married for most of
the last 45 years. (They briefly divorced but remarried.) Among her duties is
overseeing special events for the company.
Mr. Wynn leans on Elaine figuratively and literally, often throwing an arm
around her as she guides him through the property; a degenerative eye disease is
causing him to go progressively blind.
“What I’ve realized in the years that I’ve been married to him is that if you
don’t share his life, you get left behind,” says Ms. Wynn, who is a member of
the Wynn Resorts board. “A guy like Steve doesn’t mellow out. He still has his
explosions. But they pass quickly.”
“Steve is an Aquarius; his feet are off the ground,” she says. “The thrill for
him is still creating. He loves the design element of this, and he is quite
brilliant at inspiring the staff.”
MR. WYNN first came to Las Vegas as a young boy with his father, Mike Wynn, an
East Coast bingo parlor operator and a compulsive gambler. After his father
died, Mr. Wynn and his new bride, Elaine Pascal, a former Miss Miami Beach, took
over the bingo business. Steve called out the numbers; Elaine counted the cash.
The Wynns eventually made their way to Las Vegas, where, in 1967, Mr. Wynn
bought a 3 percent stake in the Frontier casino. Three months later, several
partners were accused of being fronts for a group of Detroit mobsters. Mr. Wynn
was cleared of any mob connections in the investigation, which resulted in some
convictions of partners and led to the sale of the Frontier to Howard Hughes.
With the help of his mentor, E. Parry Thomas (Roger Thomas’s father), Mr. Wynn
got a second chance. Mr. Thomas, who headed the only bank willing to lend money
to casinos at the time, backed Mr. Wynn in some early land deals and set him up
in a liquor distributorship. Mr. Thomas became known as a main conduit for the
Teamster pension fund money that was pumped into the city during the Jimmy Hoffa
Later, again with Mr. Thomas’s counsel, Mr. Wynn started accumulating stock in
the publicly traded company Golden Nugget, owner of what was then a rundown
casino in downtown Las Vegas. Over time, he staged a takeover of the company,
eventually renovating and expanding the casino. His burgeoning profile subjected
him to repeated and routine regulatory investigations for possible ties to
organized crime, all of which, Mr. Wynn is quick to point out, found him to be
He later built a Golden Nugget in Atlantic City, before selling that and turning
his focus to Las Vegas to build the Mirage. The Mirage’s popularity ignited a
new boom here, and Mr. Wynn followed up with the Treasure Island.
His pièce de résistance was the Bellagio, a $1.6 billion Italianate resort that
opened in 1998. It featured luxury retailers, high-end restaurants and a gallery
of art collected by Mr. Wynn. It became the linchpin of Mirage Resorts, a
publicly traded company with Mr. Wynn at the helm.
But by early 2000, Mirage’s stock was getting clobbered. Investors were alarmed
at ballooning costs, an expensive development on the Gulf Coast and Mr. Wynn’s
sometimes odd behavior, which included serenading Wall Street analysts with show
MGM Grand made a bid for Mirage — whether it was a hostile or friendly overture
has been a point of contention between the two sides — eventually agreeing to
buy the company for $4.4 billion and to assume about $2 billion of Mirage debt.
Mr. Wynn was 58 at the time, and he walked away from the deal with about $500
million. He could have retired and lived comfortably off of his winnings, but,
ever the entrepreneur, he began staging his comeback.
Even before the Mirage-MGM sale closed, Mr. Wynn had agreed to buy the old
Desert Inn, a beaten-down Strip property, for $270 million. He spent a further
$70 million or so snapping up nearby homes so that he could create a golf
course. Then he snared a coveted casino license in Macao.
When Wynn Resorts went public in 2002, Mr. Wynn says, he had about $250 million
invested in the company. Since then, he has received about $300 million in
distributions from his 24 percent stake, which is currently worth about $2.3
Taking some not-so-subtle jabs at his competitors, he defends his current
projects as being well within his comfort zone. “We didn’t overreach. We’re not
building 12 hotels at once,” he states, his voice again rising. “I think we’ve
bitten off something we can chew. How it shakes out, only time will tell.”
THESE days, there are any number of casinos here offering deluxe rooms,
restaurants with name-brand chefs, Rodeo Drive-equivalent shopping, steakhouses,
booming nightclubs and, of course, the latest must-have: an all-day pool club
party with a D.J.
“At this point, everyone has essentially the same product,” says Anthony Curtis,
who publishes the Las Vegas Advisor, a newsletter. “So the trick is finding a
way to differentiate yourself.”
Mr. Curtis is sitting on a lounge chair at the edge of the “Brazilian Pool” at
the Rio casino hotel. Exotic dancers from the Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club play
topless volleyball in the pool with men who pay a $30 cover charge ($10 for
women). Everybody needs a gimmick, concludes Mr. Curtis.
Indeed, Las Vegas may need all the gimmicks it can find.
The number of visitors through May was flat compared with last year, but hotels
and casinos are offering discounts on room rates to attract tourists. Analysts
at Citigroup estimate that room rates fell 12.4 percent in the second quarter
and 18.4 percent in the early part of the third quarter, compared with the same
periods last year.
Still, those visitors are gambling less; wagering revenues on the Strip are down
5.6 percent this year through May, according to the Las Vegas Convention and
Operators here say they’re seeing a significant difference between the low- and
middle-end casinos and those catering to wealthier consumers. MGM, which owns
the high-end Mirage and Bellagio as well as casinos like Excalibur and Circus
Circus, which cater to less affluent travelers, says its overall revenue per
room on the Strip fell 4 percent in the first quarter.
“Our lower-end properties were down much lower,” says James J. Murren, MGM’s
president and chief operating officer. “They were 5 percent to 12 percent below
a year ago.”
Several projects here, meanwhile, face uncertain futures as they struggle to
secure financing in one of the worst credit crises in decades. Deutsche Bank,
for instance, is foreclosing on the $3.5 billion Cosmopolitan casino after the
New York developer Ian Bruce Eichner defaulted on a $760 million loan.
MGM has a joint venture to build CityCenter with Dubai World, the Middle Eastern
investment fund, which put $2.7 billion into the project. They’re now trying to
raise a further $3 billion. Analysts and investors say they’re worried about
MGM’s unsold condominiums because the condo market has been hit particularly
hard in Las Vegas.
Amid such uncertainty, the city’s push over the last two decades to diversify is
also providing cause for worry. About 59 percent of the Strip’s revenue now
comes from nongambling activities like restaurants, hotels and leases on retail
space, compared with 42 percent in 1990, says William Eadington, director of the
Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming at the University of
That’s one reason the big gambling companies are feeling this economic downturn
more than they have in the past. “What we’re seeing is discretionary spending
take a hit,” Mr. Eadington says. “People may still come to Vegas, but they don’t
have to spend $300 a plate on a dinner or hotel room.”
With the Encore opening about five months away, Mr. Wynn continues to wave off
fears of an economic downturn. Instead, he launches into a long conversation
about politics and foreign affairs, having just returned from a weekend at the
secretive Bohemian Grove gathering in California. There, he explains, he
interacted with such political heavyweights as George P. Shultz, Henry A.
Kissinger and Colin L. Powell.
When asked where he fit in, exactly, with that crowd, the showman, ever
self-aware, spreads his hands and laughs.
“Me?” he asks, thumping his chest. “I’m over here hustling craps!”
PORTAL, Ga. (AP) -- All those lottery players holding crumpled, worthless
Mega Millions tickets can take some consolation: The couple who won the $270
million jackpot are just too nice to resent.
Robert and Tonya Harris matched all five numbers plus the Mega Ball in Friday
night's drawing, the only such ticket in the multistate game.
Robert Harris, wearing a pink shirt and dark sunglasses as he talked about his
good fortune in front of his home with his family Saturday, said he and his wife
don't normally play the lottery. But they made an exception this time. For their
numbers, they used the birthdays of their grandchildren.
''They're my life,'' he told Savannah TV station WSAV. ''Them grandkids are
everything I work for -- strive for -- to make sure they have a good life. And
now they're going to have a good life.''
By early Saturday, this town of 584 residents located about 50 miles northwest
of Savannah was buzzing. The Georgia Lottery had announced that the winning
ticket had been sold at a convenience store called Clyde's.
At that time, no one yet knew it was the Harrises. Store manager Billy Hodges
could say only that a middle-aged woman had purchased the ticket for her family
''It happened to a nice lady; I think this lady really deserves it,'' Hodges
Robert Harris said that at 8:10 a.m. Saturday, one of his daughters called him
and said someone in town was holding the winning ticket. The Harrises checked,
and one by one the numbers came up right: 7, 12, 13, 19 and 22, plus the Mega
Ball of 10.
What are the odds of that? About 1 in 176 million.
Sometime during the family celebration, Robert said he called in to his
employer, Quinlain Enterprise, and told them he was retired.
''It really hasn't sunk in, but I know that I won't have to get out there and
work,'' he said.
''As hard as he's been working for 21 years ... if anyone deserves it, he
does,'' his wife said.
In addition to the grand prize winner, 36 players -- including six Californians
-- matched all five numbers but not the Mega Ball number. They will receive
second prizes of $250,000 each.
Another 207 players matched four numbers, plus the Mega Ball number. Those are
good for third prizes of $10,000 each.
The jackpot slips back to $12 million for Tuesday's drawing.