Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

Two interesting but unrelated stories this morning:

* Wynn Resorts will be paying a special dividend to shareholders and then start paying a regular dividend in 2010.

* CEO Dan Lee has left Pinnacle Entertainment, a Las Vegas based casino operator with properties in various US markets. Lee was Mirage Resorts CFO in a past life and partly responsible for assembling the parcel that is now CityCenter.

Posting both for the sake of discussion...


Read archived comments (7 so far)
November 9, 2009 10:27 AM Posted by Brian Fey

Merry Christmas to me! Thanks Steve Wynn. They've paid out $16 a share in total dividends now. If they would have kept that money, they could have paid off all of their entire outstanding debt. Hum... I'm not sure raising money, just to turn around and give it back to shareholders is a smart, long term move. But I guess I'll take it, and smile. Steve's a pretty smart guy. I'm sure he knows what he's doing.

November 9, 2009 10:30 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC

I read wildly differing opinions about Lee in different places. Didn't he take some of the fall for the Beau Rivage construction costs and weak opening?
I am very interested in what our esteemed panel has to say.

November 9, 2009 12:32 PM Posted by detroit1051

PNK had no choice other than to fire Dan Lee. Missouri is not Nevada, and you can't have the CEO intimidating or threatening people. Lee's temper got the best of him, and with two casinos in the state and another one to open, this would be a disaster if Missouri pulled PNK's gaming license.
He and Steve Wynn were a volatile mixture when Lee was CFO for Mirage Resorts.
I went to PNK's annual meeting at the Four Seasons in Mandalay Bay when Lee was just beginning the plans for L'Auberge du Lac in Lake Charles, LA. Later, when I was planning a drive through Lake Charles, I called Lee's office to find out exactly where it was going be located. I expected some PR person to come on the line, but Dan Lee took the call and talked excitedly about the project with me for at least ten minutes even though he didn't know me from Adam. A very intense, smart person.
Remember when he left MIR and went with some internet grocery company in the northwest? I guess that never worked out.
I've got to search for a biography of him. He's a very interesting guy, but he really stepped in it this time.
John Giovenco should be a good interim CEO for PNK. He was at Hilton years ago and is one of the "old school" gaming guys.

November 9, 2009 3:19 PM Posted by Matt K

So does the dividend lay to rest the theories of Wynn making a conspicuous land purchase in Las Vegas?

November 9, 2009 4:56 PM Posted by mike_ch

I always speculated the money was going to be for the Cotai property. I was wondering if they were going to be going for a $3b or even $4b monster in Cotai because Steve seems to really really realllly love China right now.

On the other hand, I suspect all Vegas plans, no matter where or how far in the future, are all on hold because he's having nightmares of health care in the closet and a public works project under his bed.

November 9, 2009 6:42 PM Posted by Brian Fey

The dividend was less than $500 million. The company has 3 Billion in cash, so there is still PLENTY of money left. And, since there is nothing in development after Encore Macau, all the profit has no further use. Even if they started Cotai tomorrow, most of the money on the projects isn't really spent until the end. I figure Cotai is almost a 3 year project, once they start, at least 2 easy. So they could easily fund the first year or two of the project out of cash flow, and use the cash at the end to finish it up and cover the balance. I don't think Wynn ever planned on buying more land in Vegas. Sure he'd buy the Frontier for a few hundred million, but they won't take a loss like that. The only think I speculated he might possibly do, was buy Bellagio. But that was very unlikely. A. I don't think he wants it, and B. I don't think MGM is to excited about selling their biggest money maker. Basically, the way I see it, is this. They bailed out of NY, and gave that money to shareholders instead.

November 11, 2009 12:25 PM Posted by chuckmonster

Dan Lee learned not the true lessons from Steve Wynn, as exemplified in a quote by Stravinsky - "first the silk, then the knife." Additionally, a man whose name backwards spells "Eel Nad" should reconsider hubris as his sporting hobby.