„Winner Takes All: Steve Wynn, Kirk Kerkorian, Gary Loveman and the Race to Own Las Vegas“ by Christina Binkley: As a reporter for The Wall Street Journal who covered Las Vegas, Christina Binkley had an excellent perch as the city’s most powerful men triggered an epic wave of dealmaking.
As the casino industry consolidated, Binkley chronicled Kirk Kerkorian’s takeover of Steve Wynn’s Mirage Resorts, creating a company called MGM Mirage, today the biggest property owner on the Las Vegas Strip.
She sat ringside as MGM Mirage then swallowed Mandalay Resort Group, leading the professorial Gary Loveman, the chairman of Harrah’s Entertainment, to acquire Caesars Entertainment, creating the world’s largest casino company in terms of revenue. And lastly, she followed the bombastic Wynn as he plotted his lucrative comeback and laid the foundation for another gambling empire.
Now that Binkley has washed her hands of Sin City, she’s returned so to speak, detailing these high-stakes dramas in her new book, „Winner Takes All: Steve Wynn, Kirk Kerkorian, Gary Loveman, and the Race to Own Las Vegas.“
Binkley meticulously recounts the events surrounding these megabuyouts, capturing them without smothering the reader with impenetrable MBA jargon or dense descriptions that can too often stymie a good narrative.
While the book covers a lot of perfunctory ground such as the city’s history and many of its well-known players and can feel a bit rudderless at times, she does unearth plenty of tantalizing tidbits that never found their way into other news organizations. However, this book is supposed to be about three men as the title suggests. But it’s essentially about Wynn and Binkley’s rocky relationship with him.
She delves deeply into Wynn’s financial recklessness as a casino owner. All this and more paints a very unflattering portrait of the man and his ego, one that rivals the size of his lavish casino – Wynn Las Vegas – that looms large over the Strip. But if Wynn is flawed, so is „Winner Takes All.“ As a chronicler of Vegas, Binkley pays little respect to Sheldon Adelson, Wynn’s nemesis and the third-richest man in the country behind Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.
Adelson changed the way gambling companies do business in Las Vegas. He opened his Macau casino well before his competitors, including Wynn, knowing that the former Portuguese colony was a gold mine and would one day surpass Las Vegas in gambling revenues. He continues to blaze paths around the world as his competitors can only watch with envy.
In fact, Binkley’s treatment of Adelson is insulting. He’s mentioned in passing like Wynn’s cosmetic surgeries. Binkley could argue that he’s not a major part of the race to own Las Vegas because he only operates The Strip’s Venetian and Palazzo and was a late comer to the city. But that’s not acceptable. If money is power then Adelson is the most powerful man in Las Vegas.
Adelson also has a backstory worthy of telling. Why Binkley dissed him isn’t clear. It’s also not clear who will read this book outside of casino executives, bankers with ties the industry, various media types and a few professors.