Steve Wynn Picks China Over Trump

Magnate declines to endorse longtime friend on eve of massive casino opening in Macau

Billionaire casino tycoon Steve Wynn announced he wouldn’t be backing his former friend and colleague Donald Trump in the 2016 contest — just days before Wynn is set to open a massive casino in China.

Wynn described both presidential candidates as friends, calling Hillary Clinton “highly motivated” and tipping his hat to Trump on accomplishing “amazing things” — while noting he hasn’t “given a dime” to either candidate.

Wynn talked about the importance of continuing to do business in China down the road, calling China a place of “opportunity and anticipation.”

“I haven’t decided who to vote for because I’m waiting for someone to have a responsible conversation and address the issues that affect the American people,” Wynn told CNN. “Is America so naive, so gullible as to believe a fairy tale that both of these parties are fishing up?”

The CEO of Wynn Resorts also alluded to what may have been a more pressing reason for declining to support Trump in the contest. Wynn talked about the importance of continuing to do business in China down the road, calling China a place of “opportunity and anticipation.”

Trump has made getting tough on Chinese bad-acting in the international trade arena a key theme of his campaign. Trump floated the notion of a 45-percent tariff on Chinese imports to the United States as a bargaining chip to force concessions from the Communist East Asian country on currency manipulation and intellectual property.

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Trump’s rhetoric and tough-on-China policies no doubt has some Chinese officials and wealthy businessmen frantic about the prospect of a President Trump. Wynn needs to keep some of those officials happy and attract some of those wealthy businessmen to his new Macau resort — since Wynn’s casino chain has poured more than $4 billion into the project.

Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia and director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, explained the anxiety Chinese officials may have about Trump.

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“[Hillary] is predictable, they generally know how she approaches China: There are aspects they don’t like about her, but they generally know what to expect,” Glaser said in a statement.

That assessment was echoed by Tsinghua University senior adviser Harvey Dzodin, who suggested in China Daily that China may view the election as “between the devil and the deep blue sea.”

There is no way to know the degree to which Wynn may have based his decision on his business interests in China unless the casino mogul reveals more of his thinking. It is also fair to say Wynn and Trump have clashed at times, including during a heated legal battle in Atlantic City in 2001 as competitors.

Wynn’s Macau casino is set to open next week.

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