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Vegas' Quiet Billionaire

Phil Ruffin is a patient man. He snapped up Treasure Islandfrom MGM Resorts International(the new name for MGM Mirage) at a relative bargain two years ago, paying about $755 million.

Cash.

He's invested another $20 million or so into the resort, adding a five-star spa and putting Gilley's, complete with electric bull, right on the Strip. He plans to build the first Starbucks you can walk into from the street on Las Vegas Blvd., something this reporter considers long overdue.

So how's business?

"Not good," Ruffin says bluntly.

And it's not going to be good for some time. "We didn't expect a 30 percent drop in cash flow."

In an extended interview with Ruffin, who offered to also buy MGM's Mirage resort (they turned him down), explains why he wouldn't touch the troubled Fontainebleau up the street. "It's toxic."

He says Vegas will not improve for a couple more years, so does he have any regrets buying a casino as the market tanked?

No. "We still have cash."

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