Wynn's Encore opens during tough times for Vegas

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Wynn Resorts Ltd. CEO Steve Wynn says his swanky $2.3 billion Encore casino — which opened Monday in an economy that's battering casino, travel and other consumer companies — is about perfecting the basics.

Even if visitors think the Encore delivers on that promise, however, Wynn will have to keep prices low to keep people booking its 2,034 suites. That's because while Wynn is doing well, Las Vegas is not.

MGM Mirage Inc., which owns 10 casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, has laid off about 3,200 workers here since October 2007. Harrah's Entertainment has cut 1,800 workers since January. And Deutsche Bank analyst Bill Lerner told investors in a note on Monday that he is tracking more delayed projects in Las Vegas than ever before.

Wynn said he views layoffs as an absolute last option, and he's willing to drop his room prices to keep people in the building and his employees working.

"If I lay off employees, I cause a ripple effect of insecurity and fear that is much, much more difficult to overcome than is raising the price when business is good," Wynn said.

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