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LAS VEGAS-Wynn Resorts Inc said Tuesday that it will be reducing salaries and work weeks in Las Vegas rather than headcounts as it adjusts to the recession. The casino operator also said it will eliminate 2009 bonuses and suspend its program of matching 401-K retirement plan contributions. Wynn said it expects to save $75 million to $100 million annually.

“In effect, everybody makes a little bit less money, but everyone keeps their job,” company chairman Steve Wynn said on a conference call with analysts. “We don’t want anybody on unemployment here.”

In December, Wynn opened the $2.25 billion, 2,000-room Encore adjacent to the three-year-old Wynn Las Vegas, promoting it heavily despite the slowing economy. Meanwhile, competitors including MGM Mirage, Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Harrah’s each reduced their headcounts to counter consumers’ decreased travel and spending.

“A lot of [other casino companies] laid off people in December,” Wynn told analysts. “We were unable to [make our changes then] because of the unusual situation we found ourselves in opening Encore. Those changes are being made now. The purpose of these changes is simple: to protect the margins for our shareholders and bondholders and banks, and to protect the job security of our employees.”

As recently as May 2008, Wynn told analysts, “In my career I’ve never had a layoff, in Las Vegas or anywhere else, and don’t intend to do it [now]. 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.”

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