Jeff Simpson has talk with Steve Wynn about a wide range of gaming issues here and abroad

Steve Wynn seemed amused last week when I asked him about recent East Coast news reports that suggested a Wynn Resorts deal with real estate developer and Atlantic City casino mogul Donald Trump was about to take place.

„I don’t have any deal with anybody in Atlantic City,“ Wynn said by phone from Macau. „It’s an interesting place, and the governor (Jon Corzine) wants to re-energize the Boardwalk. But there are a lot of things that have to happen before we’d be ready to do something.“

When I asked what needed to take place, Wynn got right to the point. „Development in Atlantic City has always been stunted because the State of New Jersey needs to take control of it, and I think the governor needs to take the lead,“ he said.

In a big news week for Wynn Resorts, the company announced that Jack Binion would become a member of Wynn Macau’s board but would end his day-to-day operational responsibilities in Macau.

„Jack wanted to come home, and he wants to ski,“ Wynn said, before noting how much Binion had helped Wynn Macau operations during its wild pre- and post-opening period.

Wynn also noted that he and Japanese gaming device maker Kazuo Okada had agreed that neither would sell his shares without written consent from the other, and that each would have the first right to buy shares if the other wants to sell.

Each owns about 24 percent of Wynn Resorts shares, and each will make about USD 147 million from a special $ 6 per share distribution the company announced last week.

I expect Wynn to use the distribution to increase his stake in the company and take the combined Wynn-Okada ownership stake above 50 percent.

Wynn also said he had recently been approached by Australian publishing and gaming executive James Packer about possible Asian development opportunities. When I asked Wynn whether those opportunities might be in Japan, Wynn had a ready answer.

„No, I already have the best possible partner in Japan,“ he said, referring, of course, to Okada.

Wynn said casino operations are doing very well in Macau and Las Vegas.

„Las Vegas is going great – kick-ass great,“ he said. „People are getting used to the property and we are the only hotel with a casino in the world with a (Mobil) Five Star and a (AAA) Five Diamond rating.“

Wynn said he and the board were so encouraged by the response to Wynn Macau that the company has decided to build a second, all-suite casino resort adjacent to the existing hotel.

„The front door will be right across from the MGM (Grand),“ he said with a chuckle, referring to the USD 1 billion-plus resort MGM Mirage is building.

I was a little conflicted about all of last week’s hype surrounding the NBA All-Star Game, which is scheduled for February at the Thomas & Mack Center.

One TV sportscaster said it would be the biggest sports event in Las Vegas history.

While I think it’s great that the pro basketball world will focus on the city for a long weekend, in no way will an NBA All-Star Game equal a great championship fight like Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns. And I’m not even sure it tops a NASCAR race.

I can barely watch NBA, NFL or NHL all-star games. No one cares if the Eastern Conference beats the Western, or the AFC tops the NFC. (Major League Baseball’s game is the exception, as fans actually care about their league.)

If the game helps to bring a real major league sports franchise, then hooray for the NBA All-Star Game. Otherwise, it’s not that big of a deal.