BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - He once sold vitamins for an Amway-type distributor and says success in business is all about recognizing opportunities.
Self-made billionaire, Tilman Fertitta, shared those lessons at the Southern Gaming Summit, where he delivered the keynote speech on Wednesday morning.
"Today, people want entertainment when they go eat, they don't want just good food," the entrepreneur and investor told the crowd.
And Fertitta knows a little something about entertainment. The Texas billionaire turned a two restaurant company, into an entertainment empire.
"Landry's is combined a pretty good sized company. It's been a lot of fun to build. We'll do over three billion in revenue this year with 55,000 employees," he told the crowd.
Fertitta said it's all about recognizing opportunities in business. This from a man who earned his business bones at age 21, selling vitamins.
"It was my Shaklee vitamin business. 'Cause I had to do it all. I had to recruit, sell, buy. Do everything," he recalled.
These days he builds on an old school casino brand: Golden Nugget.
"I bought in Biloxi, Golden Nugget, and I said, this has got pretty good "bones." I can make this work, just like Atlantic City," said Fertitta.
"I said, gosh, I can make this really nice meeting space again. I'll go put the pool right up front, to create that electricity. I'll build a brand new casino over there," he explained, "I think you guys, if you've seen the Golden Nugget Biloxi, it's about as nice a property as you'll go in anywhere. So, we're truly excited about it."
He told the Southern Gaming crowd that "flat revenue" is a real concern for the casino industry.
"We're continuing to open casinos, but yet we're not growing revenue. And I think, for these jurisdictions, one of the smartest things that they could do is stop letting people open casinos," he said.
The advice he shares with all his restaurant managers is, "The Tillman Rule."
"Ninety five percent of everything is right. So always look for the five percent that's wrong. And I can walk into any of my properties and I can spot that five percent very quickly."
No one in this conference crowd, doubted that for a moment.
One of his latest projects is preparing to open a new Golden Nugget casino in Lake Charles, Louisiana. That renovation should be finished by the end of this year.,