Steve Wynn, the 76-year-old real estate businessman, casino mogul and philanthropist, resigned his positions as both CEO and chairman of the board of directors at Wynn Resorts Ltd. Tuesday, Feb. 6, according to a statement from the company.
“The Board of Directors of Wynn Resorts reluctantly announced today that it accepted the resignation of Steve Wynn as CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors. The board has appointed Matt Maddox, currently President of the Company, as its CEO, and Boone Wayson as Non-Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors, effective immediately,” the statement said.
The accusations against the so-called “king of Las Vegas,” and his subsequent resignation rocked the casino industry in a city that prides itself on keeping up appearances. Ongoing investigations into Wynn’s conduct should reveal more about the accusations, but for now industry leaders and politicians are distancing themselves from Wynn. Meanwhile, Wynn Resorts must figure out how this scandal will impact their brand and the brand of Las Vegas as a whole.
Wynn has been embroiled in a sexual misconduct scandal since The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, Jan. 28 accusations from former employees of a pattern of sexual misconduct by Wynn spanning decades, which he denies.
“In the last couple of weeks, I have found myself the focus of an avalanche of negative publicity,” Wynn said in a statement last week. “As I have reflected upon the environment this has created — one in which a rush to judgment takes precedence over everything else, including the facts — I have reached the conclusion I cannot continue to be effective in my current roles.”
The Wall Street Journal conducted dozens of interviews with people who worked at Wynn’s casinos and alleged behavior amounting to a pattern of sexual misconduct by Wynn.
The report included an allegation from a former manicurist at Wynn Las Vegas who said in 2005 Wynn forced her to have sex with him after she gave him a manicure. Wynn paid the manicurist a $7.5 million settlement, the article says.
Wynn denied the allegations in the article. In a statement responding to the Wall Street Journal article, Wynn said, “The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous,” and “The instigation of these accusations is the continued work of my ex-wife Elaine Wynn, with whom I am involved in a terrible and nasty lawsuit in which she is seeking a revised divorce settlement.”
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported last week on a lawsuit filed by 11 waitresses from Wynn’s time at The Mirage who claim Wynn told them they did not look good in their uniforms. The Review-Journal also reported Wynn pressured a former employee at The Mirage to have sex with him because he had “never had a grandmother before.” The woman agreed for fear of losing her job, she told the Review-Journal.
A new report from CNN investigated court records of a labor dispute between Wynn and dealers at his casino in which Wynn allegedly threatened to fire any dealers who attempted to unionize. Wynn’s lawyers denied these allegations at the time.
Wynn has also stepped away from politics in the aftermath of the accusations, resigning from his position as Finance Chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Wynn has been active in the casino business in Las Vegas since the 1960s. After the success of his first three casinos on The Strip — The Mirage, Treasure Island and The Bellagio — which were eventually acquired by MGM — Wynn started from scratch with his own company, Wynn Resorts.
Wynn Resorts went public in 2002, and a couple years later Wynn himself became a billionaire.
Wynn is credited with changing the casino industry in Las Vegas, taking smoky and seedy gambling halls and turning them into luxurious resorts and entertainment destinations.
He has since been called “the king of Las Vegas.”
“Steve Wynn created modern Las Vegas,” the statement from Wynn Resorts said. “He transformed the city into an economic powerhouse by making it a world-wide tourist destination.”
Matthew Maddox, 42, will take over Wynn’s position. Maddox has worked at Wynn Resorts since 2002 and has held various positions within the company.
“The succession plan laid out by the Board of Directors and which I wholeheartedly endorse now places Matt Maddox in the CEO seat,” Wynn said in a statement. “With Matt, Wynn Resorts is in good hands. He and his team are well positioned to carry on the plans and vision for the company I created.”
Wynn Resorts currently operates Wynn and Encore in Las Vegas and Wynn Macau and Wynn Palace in China. Also under construction is Wynn Boston Harbor and Wynn Plaza, a luxury retail Strip-front expansion.
Gaming regulators in Nevada, Massachusetts and Macau say they are investigating the accusations against Wynn.
Ryan Suppe can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @salsuppe.