Craig Billings' statements

Wynn's new CEO committed to Macau despite losses, keen on exploring global opportunities after UAE bet

Wynn Resorts' CEO Craig Billings.
Reading time 2:07 min

Wynn Resorts’ new CEO has shown optimism regarding the company’s operations in Macau despite losses in the market and ongoing pandemic uncertainty. Craig Billings was first announced in November last year as replacing former chief executive officer Matthew Maddox at the helm, starting February this year.

“I’m most excited and fascinated by Macau,” Billings said in an interview with Bloomberg, the first one since he took over as CEO. “I’m kind of a glutton for ambiguity and change.” Wynn operates two casinos in the world’s largest gaming hub: Wynn Macau and Wynn Palace.

The company used to get 70% of its business from the Chinese destination about three years ago, but the situation has changed since then, with the venues losing money in the final months of 2021 amid travel restrictions and anti-Covid measures.

However, the executive has also expressed intentions of focusing on new developments outside of current markets, thus further expanding the company’s reach and making it more of a global player. This includes an upcoming $2 billion casino and resort in the United Arab Emirates, unveiled in January.

Al Marjan Island, in UAE

To be located on Al Marjan Island, the ambitious project is set to feature about 1,200 hotel rooms and a state-of-the-art casino floor. Billings described it as a good opportunity for the company, given the potential to attract a large number of tourists, including a sizable share of European guests.

But despite company commitments to Macau and UAE, Wynn is also keen on exploring further opportunities in the United States, plus eyeing strategies with a focus on younger, affluent guests and a number of non-gaming projects, further reports Bloomberg. This builds on a similar strategy the business has already applied in Las Vegas, where it launched new amenities such as Delilah, an Art Deco-inspired club that grew popular among younger segments.

In the interview, Billings described plans for pop-up stores from cutting-edge designers, complementing a current line-up that already includes heavyweights Chanel and Gucci, plus a $100 million investment in a to-be-announced new show replacing Le Reve, featuring magic and a storyline from comic-book writer Kelly Sue DeConnick.

Wynn Macau

New non-casino attractions might also be coming to Macau, given a government requirement for licensees to spend more on attractions outside of the gambling industry. Billings said he would like to build more hotel rooms, plus described the possibility of projects with a focus on sports, art and culture.

The statement echoes similar views voiced by Wynn’s chairman Phil Satre, who in a recent interview said the company was going to have “a changed business” in the city. “We’re seeing our customers reflect more of the age group that Craig is in. Baby boomers to Gen X and millennials,” he stated.

However, traditional casino opportunities are not out of the table: Billings is eyeing expansion opportunities in New York, with Wynn looking at sites for a potential casino project. “What’s happening with the consumer is a willingness to spend,” the CEO said. “And it’s not just us.”

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