Billionaire Tilman Fertitta's mega-yacht, Boardwalk, sits at the Frank S. Farley State Marina adjacent to Golden Nugget Atlantic City, where the casino's owner was hyping his new book Saturday afternoon.
Billionaire Tilman Fertitta's mega-yacht, Boardwalk, sits at the Frank S. Farley State Marina adjacent to Golden Nugget Atlantic City, where the casino's owner was hyping his new book Saturday afternoon.|Chuck Darrow

‘Billion Dollar Buyer’ Tilman Fertitta cruises into Golden Nugget Atlantic City for book-promotion events

The self-made “world’s richest restauranteur” was at his AyCee property to beat the drum for a new advice book he penned

Chuck Darrow

Chuck Darrow

Once you’ve built the world’s largest hospitality-industry operation from a single Texas restaurant, bought an NBA franchise and been a reality TV star, what’s left to do? For Tilman Fertitta, the answer was “write a book.” And that’s what the 62-year-old Houston-based billionaire has done. But rather than simply tell his life story, Fertitta decided to share his blueprint for success with the world. The result is the just-published Harper-Collins effort, Shut Up and Listen! Hard Business Truths That Will Help You Succeed, in which he offers tough-love lessons about life in and out of the business world.Saturday afternoon, Fertitta--whose privately held Landry’s Inc. owns and operates such blue-chip restaurant brands as Morton’s, Chart House and McCormick & Schmick--sailed into his Golden Nugget Atlantic City casino, presumably aboard his helicopter-equipped yacht, Boardwalk, which was docked at the adjacent Frank S. Farley State Marina. He was there for public and private book-promotion events.

Prior to his first appearance (an invitation-only Q-and-A session attended by a couple hundred or so of the Nugget’s best customers), Fertitta conducted a brief, informal press conference with a trio of reporters. Here’s what the ‘Billion Dollar Buyer’ had to say about a variety of topics:

On the recent state ruling that allows Golden Nugget Atlantic City to accept NBA wagering despite his ownership of the Houston Rockets:

“Well, it's huge because…nobody's going to come here if they want to make a bet on an NBA game. So now, we're truly excited.”

On the mission of “Shut Up and Listen!

“It really tells everybody if you do these certain things…you can be more successful in your life, no matter if you're a reporter or a gaming operator or an entrepreneur. It's just basics that, if you just do…certain things, you're going to be better.”

On why he decided to write the book:

“Harper-Collins came to me and said, ‘We're going to pay you a bunch of money to write this book.’”

On what he considers the oversaturation of the Atlantic City gaming market:

“I think it's kind of a fact that everybody did better when it was a seven-casino market. Remember…these are big monsters and it takes a lot of money to keep them up. And when you're trying to make payroll instead of putting money back into your facility, that's when you run into trouble.

I think the Golden Nugget here is a great example. The Trump Marina [which the Nugget replaced] did so [poorly] as they kept opening casinos that they didn't have any money to put back in it, in any of the Trump properties. There's only so much money to go around.

“If you added 5,000 jobs by opening up The Ocean and Hard Rock, but you lost 5,000 jobs at the other seven casinos, what good is that? That's all just simple math.”

On the New Jersey law he really hates:

“I can't gamble in Atlantic City. That's kind of an antiquated rule. To have to go to Philadelphia to gamble is kind of ridiculous.”

On having future presidential ambitions:

“Absolutely not! I'm probably too ethical. I don't think you can tell the truth if you're a politician.”


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