Wynn Resorts Las Vegas’ New Hotel Tower Plan May Be Denied by Regulators

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Wynn Resorts’ ambitious plans to expand its Las Vegas Strip presence with a third hotel tower are currently facing a significant hurdle.

The luxury casino resort operator wants to build a new 1,100 room hotel tower on a 38-acre site that was previously part of the Alon Las Vegas project.

It is currently seeking an extension on an approval for the proposal, which was first granted in 2015. However, since then, many things have changed. There has been a global pandemic. Building codes have been updated. Only one new study has been submitted by Wynn.

Also, there’s Steve Wynn. In 2019, the company founder and former CEO departed in disgrace. That’s after a Nevada Gaming Commission hearing found he had shown a pattern of sexual misconduct over several decades. He maintained his innocence, but has been permanently barred from holding any positions in Nevada gambling.

Despite continuing strong performance among Wynn’s Nevada casinos without its namesake founder at the helm, the previously approved new hotel tower is now meeting resistance from local authorities, casting doubt on its future.

Request for Extension Amid Regulatory Challenges

The proposed project centers on a 1,100 room hotel tower to add to the two Wynn Las Vegas towers. The designated lot is just north of the Fashion Show mall and opposite the main Wynn resort.

The current proposal envisions a 3.4 million square foot development, significantly expanding on the existing resort’s footprint

“An extension will allow us the appropriate amount of time to consider the best development for that parcel. Once we have our programming of the parcel settled, we’ll be in a position to communicate a time line,” said a Wynn spokesperson, speaking earlier this week to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Staff at the Clark County Building Department, however, recommend denying the extension.

Their stance is influenced by the fact that the original approval is now eight years old, and Wynn has only submitted one new technical study for review.

Furthermore, some building regulations have changed since the initial approval, adding complexity to the project’s realization.

Wynn’s relationship with gaming regulators was also damaged by the Steve Wynn scandal. The NGCB fined Wynn Resorts $20 million in 2019, and in 2023, it handed out a $10 million personal fine to the company founder. Wynn, 83, has since cut all ties with the gambling business and moved to Florida.

Past Plans and Current Challenges

This new hotel tower would be Wynn’s first major expansion of the popular Wynn Las Vegas since the departure of its founder. The operator did launch WynnBET for online sports betting in New Jersey in 2020, expanding to eight states by 2023.

However, going into 2024, it is now closed in all but two of them. One of those markets is New York sports betting. In December, WynnBET became the first sportsbook to post back-to-back monthly losses in the Empire State’s booming market.

In terms of this latest plan, Wynn Resorts acquired the Las Vegas land near its existing resort in 2017. It paid $336 million to Crown Resorts, which abandoned its plans for Alon Las Vegas.

Previously, the land hosted the New Frontier casino, owned by Phil Ruffin. It was demolished in 2007, when El-Ad Properties paid Ruffin $1.2 billion for the land.

However, El-Ad never even began work on its $5 billion Plaza Las Vegas casino resort. That’s due to the financial crisis of 2008.

Wynn acquired the long-vacant lot for $336 million in 2018, with plans already in place for a hotel tower via the Alon Las Vegas project. However that financial commitment has yet to materialize into anything tangible.

The company did request a building height study in 2022 from the Federal Aviation Administration for a potential 640-foot tower. But other than that, developments have been scarce.

Clark County officials are now seemingly tired of the lack of updates on the project. Wynn will have until April’s zoning commission meeting to come up with new development updates to appease the Clark County Building Department. If not, its first major expansion effort in several years may be denied a permit.

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