It's a new week, which means it's time to check the most interesting insider purchases. After reading through numerous filings using insider tracking tool Form 4 Oracle, here are my top five from the past seven days:

The week's buying


Closing Price 8/15/06

Total Value of Stock Purchased

52-Week Change

Ameristar Casinos (NASDAQ:ASCA)




Dresser-Rand Group (NYSE:DRC)




Extra Space Storage (NYSE:EXR)




General Growth Properties (NYSE:GGP)




Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN)




Sources:, Yahoo! Finance, Form 4 Oracle, SEC filings

A win with Wynn?
When Steve Wynn named Jack Binion chairman of the Wynn International division of Wynn Resorts on July 27, investors should have cheered. Binion is, after all, a legendary insider in the gambling industry and widely recognized as one of the savviest executives in the business. Instead, they choked like a poker newbie caught in a bluff. The stock closed down 5%.

Then, days later, a lucky run among gamblers at Wynn's global locations transformed an expected $0.05 per share gain into a $0.05 per-stub loss during the second quarter. Accordingly, the stock suffered another 2% haircut.

But all that did was give Binion, a longtime host of the annual World Series of Poker (along with his late father, Benny), an opportunity. He seized it. Since Tuesday, Aug. 4, Binion has spent more than $50 million to acquire shares in his new employer, upping his total stake by more than 49%.

Why? Blame China. Wynn wants Binion to run his operations in Macau, the bustling gambling mecca that rests along the South China Sea, west of Hong Kong. It's a huge opportunity. As fellow Fool Nathan Slaughter reports here, gaming revenue exceeded $5 billion in 2005 and could grow at a compounded 22% rate over the next five years.

And if that's not enticing enough, consider that three-fourths, or $900 million, of Wynn's Macau start-up costs are being funded through a sub-concession deal with Australia's PDL. That should provide needed breathing room for the casino operator, which a seasoned executive like Binion ought to be able to exploit.

He seems to know it, too. Fifty million is a big bet for anybody, even for Binion, who sold Horseshoe Gaming for $1.45 billion to Harrah's Entertainment (NYSE:HET) in 2003.

Don't be too surprised, though. Binion knows that when it comes to gambling, the key to winning is to bet big when the odds are stacked in your favor. With a hot market, an experienced team, and a healthier balance sheet, Wynn's odds of success are suddenly as good as they've ever been.

Investing with the General
I'm hardly an expert on real estate investment trusts, or REITs. So I listen up when an expert offers his thoughts; in this case, that expert is Foolish friend Nate Parmelee.

On Monday, he explained how General Growth Properties, a REIT specializing in retail and planned communities, managed to stay strong despite missing analyst estimates for funds from operations (FFO), a key measure of operating performance. Among the noted improvements: higher occupancy, improved net operating income, and a healthier debt-to-total capital ratio.

Allow me to add insider buying to the list. Since mid-May, Chief Financial Officer Bernard Freibaum has acquired more than 61,000 shares. And the pace has accelerated: More than 40% of his buying was concluded on Monday. Color me intrigued.

That's all for this week. See you back here next Wednesday, when we dig through more insider deals in search of the next home run stock.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers usually favors two scoops of ice cream over the inside scoop. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. Get the skinny on all of the stocks in his portfolio by checking Tim's Fool profile . The Motley Fool's disclosure policy is always a sure bet.