Steve Wynn, born Stephen Alan Weinberg in New Haven, was born in New Haven Connecticut on January 27, 1942. His father, Michael Weinberg, changed the family’s last name in 1946 from “Weinberg” to “Wynn” when Steve was six months old in order to avoid anti-Jewish discrimination.
Wynn was raised in Utica, New York, where he attended The Manlius School, a private boys’ school in upstate New York. After graduating the Manlius School in 1959 Steve Wynn attended the University of Pennsylvania.
While at the University of Pennsylvania, Steve Wynn studied several divers topics, such as Cultural Anthropology and he was a member of the Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity. In 1963, Wynn graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature.
During his sophomore year, he met his future wife, Elaine Pascal, who had been named Miss Miami Beach High 1960. He took her to meet his parents during his summer vacation and then to the Boom Boom Room at the Fontainebleau and 10 days later she was wearing his fraternity Pin.
A few months before his graduation, his father died, leaving $350,000 in gambling debts. Wynn was forced to give up his position at Yale Law School in order to take charge of the family’s failing bingo parlor business in Waysons Corner, Maryland. With Elaine counting the money and Steve calling the bingo, within a year they had not only saved the family business but also bought their competitor out and managed to pay off most of his fathers gambling debts.
In 1967, Steve Wynn was offered a 3% stake in the Frontier Hotel and Casino in Lasw Vegas, Nevada. Steve moved his family to Las Vegas and got to work as a junior partner at the Frontier. But, shortly after taking on the position, the partners in the Frontier were exposed as fronts for a group of Detroit Gangsters. He was cleared of any mob connections, but because of the scandal, Steve was sidelined from the Frontier and his career was temporarily put on hold.
In 1971, a very influential banker, named E. Parry Thomas took a liking to Wynn and was willing to back a venture involving a narrow strip of land next to Caesars Palace owned by Thomas’s client Howard Hughes. Thomas not only helped to fund the purchase, for $1.1 million, but was also instrumental in talking Hughes into selling the property. At the time, a spokesman for Hughes told The New York Times, “This property is simply a parking lot.”
Only eleven months later, in October of 1972, Wynn ended up selling the property to Caesars Palace for $2.25 million and pocketed $700,000 as his share of the profits.
After his success with the Caesars palace deal, Wynn started accumulating shares in The Golden Nugget, on Thomas’s advice. A the time the Golden Nugget was on the decline and losing profits, until Wynn staged a takeover and was named chairman and then president of the Gold Nugget at 31 years old.
In 1978, gambling was legalized in Atlantic City and Wynn got in on the action. His company had an equity of only $5.5 million dollars and he needed at least $100 million in order to finance a grand casino in Atlantic City. At the time, most large investors shied away from any kind of casinos as the popular view as that gambling was a dirty business, but Wynn found Michael Milken, who actually liked the gambling business, seeing it as a kind of amusement park for adults. Milken helped Wynn raise $112 million by July 1979 at the ground breaking ceremony of the Atlantic City Golden nugget.
Almost overnight, the Atlantic City Golden Nugget became the most profitable casino in Atlantic City. At the start it took Milken four months to raise the first $25 million for the casino, but by 1983 it was selling over $250 million in bonds in a single day. Whereas it had taken Milken four months to raise the first $25 million for Wynn’s casino, he now sold $250 million of bonds in a single day in 1983 and was sold for $440 million in 1987.
Wynn went on to acquire interests in several other casinos and making shrewd business deals that put his name at the top of the list of casino proprietors. By the late 1990’s he was running Mirage Resorts (whose assets also included the Mirage, Treasure Island, and the Bellagio).On February 23, 2000, MGM bought out the Mirage for $6.4 billion with Wynn recieving $500 million.
After selling the Mirage Resorts, Wynn opened the Wynn Las Vegas in 2005 which was his most expensive project to date, built at a cost of $2.7 billion. A short year later, the Wynn Macau was opened on September 5, 2006, undergoing great expansions during 2007 and winning the Mobil Five-Star award in 2008.
In 2008, the Encore Las Vegas was opened, after having begun the construction in 2006. The overall cost of the project was around $2.3 billion. Together with the Wynn Las Vegas casino, the entire Wynn resort complex has over 4,000 room which makes it the sixth largest hotel in the world.
In May of 2012, Wynn broke ground on the Whynn Palace, a resort hotel build on the Cotai Strip in the People’s Republic of China. The resort cost over $2.5 billion to build and includes an aerial transport system with gondolas shaped like dragons, hot-air balloons and several pedestal gardens.
In September of 2014, Wynn began construction on the Wynn Everett Casino in the city of Everett, Mass. Wynn resorts proclaimed the project to be “a great invigorator of economic development and job creation”, saying that the project would create over 3,000 full time jobs with salaries averaging around $56,000. They also announced that they were organizing several benefits for the project which included a $30 million “community enhancement bonus” and a $5 million contribution to the local police and fire department in lieu of their services.