Wynn Land Deal Shows Deep Connections Between Wynn, Trump, and Ruffin

Posted on: January 16, 2018, 04:00h. 

Last updated on: January 16, 2018, 12:27h.

When Wynn Resorts announced that it was purchasing 38 acres of land across from the Wynn Las Vegas last month, it was unclear what the company or developer Steve Wynn might have planned for the plot of land that was once the Alon project site.

Trump Wynn Ruffin land
President Donald Trump, Steve Wynn, and Phil Ruffin have deep connections to a Las Vegas parcel of land that has changed hands several times. (Image: AP Photo/Joe Cavaretta)

But the deal did serve as a reminder of just how interlinked the dealings of many billionaire casino magnates can be, including some of the largest developers in Las Vegas and the current President of the United States.

Over the years, the site that was purchased has been owned by a number of groups who had big plans for the land, though nothing has come of any of these recent projects.

Going far back, the land was the home of the New Frontier, a hotel that was imploded about 10 years ago.

Packer Was Latest Billionaire to Fail to Build on Site

Most recently, the majority of the plot purchased by Wynn was owned by James Packer’s Crown Resorts with the purpose of building a casino resort known as Alon. But Packer backed out last year before any sort of construction had begun, choosing to sell the vacant lot north of Fashion Show Drive instead.

The sale of that land to Wynn Resorts should be finalized sometime this quarter. But the land also includes 3.6 acres that was owned by Phil Ruffin, owner of the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino, and that’s where the Donald Trump connection comes into play.

Ruffin’s land is next to the Trump International hotel and condo building, and was planned to be the site of a second tower. Back in 2008, the future president said that once the economy improved, he planned to build a second high-rise that would be identical to the first.

But when financial markets failed to recover quickly following the housing bubble crisis, those plans were scuttled.

Since then, the site has passed through the hands of a couple of different investment groups that had plans to build there, but nothing as materialized.

From a planned resort known as Plaza Las Vegas to the recent Crown Resorts effort, nobody has been able to get the ball rolling on development of the vacant site, a pattern that has been seen with other vacant parcels on and near the Las Vegas Strip.

Wynn May Hold Land for Future Projects

Now, it will be Steve Wynn’s turn to try to make something of the land where Ruffin and Trump could not. It’s unclear if anything will be done with the land soon, however, with some analysts expecting the firm to simply hold the land so that it is available for future use.

The connection between these billionaires goes deeper than just land deals in Las Vegas. Ruffin and President Trump have been friends for a long time now, with Trump even serving as the best man as Ruffin’s wedding to 26-year-old Ukrainian beauty queen Oleksandra Nikolayenko in 2008.

Ruffin was a major supporter of Trump’s presidential campaign, and visited the White House last March.

Meanwhile, Wynn and Trump have buried the hatchet on their rivalry from when the now-president was active in the casino industry.

While Wynn initially backed other Republican candidates, he eventually supported Trump’s candidacy, and now serves as the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.