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LAS VEGAS-High-end casino-resort mogul Steve Wynn told analysts Thursday that the company’s 20% drop in first quarter profit was largely bad luck at the tables and that investors looking more closely will see a more noteworthy story, which is that non-casino revenue held up, despite the economy, thanks in part to foreign tourists taking advantage of the weak dollar. Wynn was adamant that he would not be reducing his workforce or service levels to offset a slowdown in domestic business.

“In my career I’ve never had a layoff, in Las Vegas or anywhere else, and don’t intend to do it [now],” Wynn told analysts. “We consider employee morale and the feeling of security our employees have is the most important asset the company owns, more than our buildings and even our concessions; and when you do layoffs, everybody left says ‘who’s next?’, and that’s completely negative and counterproductive to what we are trying to do. So no matter what the short-term fluctuations in the American economy are I am telling anybody who is interested in our company [that] under no circumstances – under no circumstances — will I give any consideration, even for a second, to changing service levels or disrupting our workforce.”

Wynn Resorts owns two operating casino resorts, Wynn Las Vegas and Wynn Macau, and has two more under construction, Encore at Wynn Las Vegas and Encore at Wynn Macau. The $2.2-billion Las Vegas addition is expected to be up and running at the end of this year. The $600-million Macau addition is slated to open in 2010.

The company reported this week that net income declined to $46.7 million, or $0.41 cents per share, from $58.4 million, or $0.54 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, Wynn Resorts earned $0.69 cents per share in the fourth quarter, a couple of pennies short of analysts’ consensus estimate. Net revenue beat analysts’ estimate of $734.4, coming in at $778.7 million, up from $635.3 million in the same year-earlier period, due largely to increased business at Wynn Macau.

Business in the Chinese gambling enclave more than offset a drop in net casino revenue in Las Vegas, which fell to $125.1 million from $173.1 million. Wynn attributed the decline largely to bad luck, saying the company won only 19.9% of money gambled at table games, compared with a table hold of 27.6% in the year-earlier quarter. While first quarter net casino revenue fell in Las Vegas because of that, he says gross non-casino revenue there increased 3.3% to $201.6 million.

“This is the sixth time I’ve been through slowdowns in Las Vegas and it might be helpful to put some depth of perspective on this,” Wynn told analysts Thursday. “The thing to look at more than anything else is non-casino revenue, and year-to-date [including April] we are at $270.7 million versus $264.3 million last year.”

Wynn, who doesn’t normally discuss April numbers in first-quarter conference calls, said he would do so this time “because we just finished the month and everybody is interested in trends.” Las Vegas non-casino revenue for April was $68.8 million, he said, down only slightly from $68.9 million in the same year-earlier period; that ADR was $309, down $4 from $313; and occupancy was 96.6%, down from 97.5%, results he described as “not exactly devastating, by any means.”

And unlike the first quarter, in which the lower table hold cost the company tens of millions in revenue, Wynn says table revenue in April was $50.8 million, up from $46.9 million in April 2007. Through the first four months of 2008, Wynn said table win was $204 million out of the $671 million that was gambled, which is 30.4%. Through the first four months of 2007, table win was $250 million out of $725 million gambled, which is approximately 34.5%.

“Volatility is part of the story of a casino that deals to the top end like we do,” he said.

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