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Inside Vegas - Steve Miller

Steve Miller is a former Las Vegas City Councilman. In 1991, the readers of the Las Vegas Review Journal voted him the "Most Effective Public Official" in Southern Nevada. Visit his website at:

The Wynns, and what they may not want us to know

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
May 2, 2005

       Steve and Kenny Wynn

LAS VEGAS - Its the talk of the town! The first mega-resort to open on the Strip in five years. "Wynn Las Vegas" opened its $2.7 billion dollar doors at midnight Wednesday to thousands of starry-eyed people who waited hours to get a first glimpse at what Steve Wynn called the most expensive hotel in the world.

But, who is this Wynn guy?

Most know him as the creator of the Golden Nugget, Mirage, Treasure Island, and Bellagio hotels in Las Vegas. However, there may be more to his story.

"The strong inference that can be drawn from the new intelligence is that Stephen Wynn, the President of GNI (Golden Nugget, Inc.), has been operating under the aegis of the Genovese family since he first went to Las Vegas in the 1960s to become a stockholder in the New Frontier Casino."

"It must be said that some of the data supporting this view, taken on its own, is not conclusive. However, the connections are so numerous and significant that it would be impossible to accept coincidence as a reasonable explanation."

"It has been alleged by a confidential informant that Wynn's late father, Michael Wynn formerly Weinberg, ran his bingo parlour in Maryland under the auspices of Anthony 'Fat Tony' Selerno, then a member and now one of the ruling triumvirate of the Genovese family."

These are the purported, almost forgotten words of Detective Chief Inspector Sparks and Detective Constable Summers of the Criminal Investigation Department of New Scotland Yard in a September 9, 1983 Special Report to their Superintendent regarding the fitness of  Steve Wynn for a license to operate a proposed casino in Great Britain.

Though antiquated by modern standards, the "Scotland Yard Report" did result in the refusal of the Gaming Board of Great Britain to grant Wynn a license, and the words contained in that faded Report could reverberate in future years.

After the Report's findings were revealed, as a courtesy the Board scheduled a consultation to inform Mr. Wynn in advance of the pending denial, and offer him time to withdraw his application.

"In the intervening period between the consultation on 19th February, 1982 and the Board's decision the 26th February, 1982, the solicitors acting for Golden Nugget sought permission to withdraw their application rather than have it refused."

"...Golden Nugget were obliged to inform the New York Stock Exchange if their application were refused which would, no doubt, have had some effect on the corporation's share price..."

Subsequently, the application was withdrawn and the New York Stock Exchange was not obligingly informed. Wynn never again attempted to obtain a gaming license in Great Britain, possibly because of the Report's inclusion of a New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement document indicating three areas of concern:

"(1)  Questionable stock option transactions:  (2)  Stephen Wynn's association with 3 individuals, Louis Cappiello, Neil Assinaro and Michael Jones:  (3)  Stephen Wynn's alleged use of cocaine."

Cappiello, Assinaro, and Jones were known drug traffickers whom Wynn gave executive positions at the Golden Nugget.

Also in the Scotland Yard Report was a flow chart that included well known persons who today cause even more concern about Wynn's meteoric rise to prominence.

Long time Vegas residents will immediately recognize the names of Joe Agosto, Ash Resnick, the Doumani brothers, Tony Spilotro, and Joey Cusumano on the flow chart. Keep in mind this chart was created years before the movie "Casino" where Spilotro was played so well by Joe Pesci, or before the beginning of the Crazy Horse Too strip club federal racketeering investigation that may name Cusumano as one of the major players.

The chart also names the late Charles Meyerson, Wynn's well known junketeer who never bothered to obtain a Key Employee License. Meyerson was a friend of Wynn's father and stood close by Steve throughout his career. However in 1993, Meyerson almost caused Wynn to implode.

A lead story on the six o'clock KLAS TV Channel 8 News followed the next morning by the front page of the Las Vegas Review-Journal told of the arrest of eight purported Five Family members as they were about to board a plane out of McCarran International Airport. According to the RJ stories authored by John L. Smith and Jon Ralston, the men were arrested for being ex-felons who did not register at the local police station when they arrived in town.

However, they did allegedly register as the "McCoys" when they were comped to high roller suites at the Mirage by Mr. Meyerson. The going joke around the hotel was that they were the "Real McCoys," i.e., capos in mob families that were being wined and dined by Wynn, et. al. This caused the Sheriff to go ballistic, especially at a time when Vegas was trying to clean up its mob reputation.

After the arrests, Wynn threatened to sue then-Clark County Sheriff John Moran and several high ranking Metro detectives. Moran fired back by demanding that Meyerson apply for a Key Employee License with the Nevada Gaming Commission. Both men did neither, but the feud became a Sin City legend.

I became inadvertently involved when I invited Smith and Ralston to appear on my national radio talk show, and according to Wynn, killed his billion dollar planned casino in Hartford, Connecticut. After telling the Connecticut Chamber of Commerce, "I offered to help your state, but instead you listened to that lunatic Steve Miller,"  he threatened to sue me for defamation along with my co-host Russ Driver, producer, and all the stations that carried "The Steve Miller Open Line," though the story we told was copyrighted by Channel 8 and the RJ before we aired it. The only difference was that their signal and readership did not extend into Connecticut, and mine did.

Wynn obviously wanted to kill the "Real McCoy" story, especially in venues he planned for future casino projects. An offer was made to me by Wynn's lawyers. If I would cancel my program, he would not proceed with his lawsuit. I immediately went off the air, but that didn't stop the controversy. The story had already gone national and soon I was being interviewed by reporters from Chicago and Vancouver, B.C. where Wynn had casinos on the drawing board. Those projects also failed to be licensed, and I was again named as the person responsible for their demise. I began to feel like Wynn's scapegoat!

Strangely though, the story was completely blacked out in Vegas.

Then Wynn sued John L. Smith who authored a book that included excerpts from the Scotland Yard Report.

The times were not going so well for Steve. In addition to hating his unauthorized biography, he had just convinced the mayor to build what later would become the ruination of Downtown Las Vegas -- a canopy covering historic Fremont Street. Hand picked to head the $73 million dollar public works project was Steve's brother Kenny.

Just before he started the tax funded project, Kenny Wynn was subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in a high profile drug case. He publicly admitted a drug abuse problem, paid a $10,000 fine and surrendered his gaming license for a year. But that didn't stop then-Mayor Jan Jones from ceremoniously awarding Kenny the reigns to the canopy project they coined "The Fremont Street Experience." She did so without disclosing she held stock in Golden Nugget/Mirage resorts and stood to personally benefit if the canopy idea caught on.


The "Experience" became a light and sound show disaster that, when it blasts off each hour, draws gamblers from the slots and tables into the street. Now several years later, we know why casinos don't have clocks, and why nothing ever happens outside any casino that might cause distraction to the gamblers inside. The gross gaming revenues in Downtown went flat after the canopy opened, and stayed that way ever since.

Steve Wynn, after building the Golden Nugget into one of Vegas' hottest spots, must have seen the writing on the wall (or canopy), and soon sold the place. After Wynn abandoned Downtown, other nearby casinos went dark or were sold at bargain prices. Steve had experienced another failed project with Fremont Street Experience, though he and Jones never accepted responsibility.

A few years later, Steve flexed his political muscle to pass Senate Bill No. 521, a Nevada law that gave him a tax loophole for his high priced casino art collection. The break is estimated to cost taxpayers about $18 million a year and cost local schools millions in lost tax funds.

Then Wynn's financier went to prison, but that didn't stop Steve from continuing his "association" with "Junk Bond King" Michael Milken. Though usually frowned upon by gaming authorities, Wynn was spotted visiting Milken dozens of times in federal prison,
and shortly after Milken was released in 1997, Wynn and former Nevada Governor Bob Miller attended a well publicized 4th of July dinner party at Milken's Lake Tahoe estate.

No one in Nevada dared question whether Wynn had violated
NRS 463.170: Qualifications for license... that states: The Commission (must be) satisfied that the applicant is: (b) A person whose prior activities, criminal record, if any, reputation, habits and associations (emphasis added) do not pose a threat to the public interest of this state or to the effective regulation and control of gaming....

I have nothing against ex-felons, but I do believe the gaming law should be applied equally.

While Wynn cavorted openly with Milken, former Horseshoe owner Ted Binion felt the full wrath of the Commission for associating with another ex-felon, along with having a serious drug addiction. Binion was seen hanging out at Club Paradise with ex-felon Herbie Blitzstein who was a member of Nevada's Black Book. The Commission used this association as part of the reason they yanked Binion's gaming license, but all the while ignored the Wynn/Milken "association."

Granted, Michael Milken is not in the Black Book, but an ex-felon is an ex-felon, and they aren't supposed to associate with gaming license holders no matter how politically connected they may be.

Steve Wynn sold his interest in the Mirage, Treasure Island, and Bellagio to MGM Grand in 2000 for $6.4 billion, most of which went to his investors. Then the Nevada Legislature conveniently relaxed rules preventing foreign investment in Nevada casinos and loosened rules requiring full disclosure of who those investors are. After the law was suddenly changed, Wynn began spending time in the Orient, and a bunch of Legislators found the funds to run for reelection or higher office.

Within the next two years, Kenny Wynn, who
owns 1.2 million shares worth $24.7 million in the project, was announced supervisor of construction on his brother's new Wynn Las Vegas resort, and Steve became a Buddhist. But his days of meditation were rudely interrupted. On February 25, 2004, Kenny was served with a search warrant at his home in connection with a child pornography investigation.

No information has ever been made public on the child porn investigation -- though the results should be of interest to Nevada gaming authorities since Kenny owns so much stock and serves in an excutive position at Wynn Las Vegas.
Kenny's court records on any drug problems were also sealed in 1993.

I don't want to rain on Steve's parade or that of his investors (whoever they may be), but the public deserves to know the above information, especially that contained in official Scotland Yard and New Jersey reports that have now become public records.

I'm also told that had I not revealed the "Real McCoy" story to officials in states where Wynn had grandiose plans, he would probably have spent all the money there instead of building the Bellagio and Wynn Las Vegas resorts here.

Steve Wynn is truly a fascinating guy, and his story needs to be fully told to appreciate his diverse talents, connections, and background.

But let us not forget the words of Detective Chief Inspector Sparks and Detective Constable Summers: "However, the connections are so numerous and significant that it would be impossible to accept coincidence as a reasonable explanation."

Thank goodness the mob was run out of Vegas years ago!

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