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Casino mogul Steve Wynn has resigned as CEO and chairman of Wynn Resorts, effective immediately. He has been replaced by current president Matt Maddox.
Wynn has faced a barrage of accusations of rampant sexual harassment covering the many years he has served as CEO of the company he founded in 2002. The tipping point was a Wall Street Journal investigation, which put the stock price of Wynn Resorts into a freefall. News emerged that Wynn paid — and didn’t disclose — a $7.5 million settlement to a manicurist over sexual misconduct allegations.
Tonight, the company issued the following statement:
Statement from Wynn Resorts
“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.
“It is with a collective heavy heart, that the board of directors of Wynn Resorts today accepted the resignation of our founder, CEO and friend Steve Wynn,” said non-executive director of the board Boone Wayson. “Steve Wynn is an industry giant. He is a philanthropist and a beloved leader and visionary. He played the pivotal role in transforming Las Vegas into the entertainment destination it is today. He also assembled a world-class team of executives that will continue to meet the high standards of excellence that Steve Wynn created and the Wynn brand has come to represent.”
The 76-year-old Wynn is the most visible and high-profile travel executive to be recently accused of committing sexual harassment against his employees. His net worth is estimated to be close to $3.7 billion, the majority of which is in shares of his company.
Those shares took a dramatic plunge immediately after the Wall Street Journal story broke and have since fallen 19 percentage points.
Details of Wynn’s separation agreement will be disclosed by the board when they are finalized, the company said. It is therefore unknown how much compensation he will walk away with following his resignation.
Included in the company’s press release was a personal statement from Wynn himself. It read: “In the last couple of weeks, I have found myself the focus of an avalanche of negative publicity. 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. Therefore, effective immediately, I have decided to step down as CEO and Chairman of the Board of Wynn Resorts, a company I founded and that I love.”
The Wall Street Journal article that was published on January 26 said that Wynn pressured his employees to perform sexual acts on him and that he paid $7.5 million to settle claims brought on by a former manicurist who was employed at his Las Vegas casino resort. He continues to deny any wrongdoing.
Local regulators in Nevada, Massachusetts, and Macau, where Wynn Resorts has a total of four properties, are currently reviewing the claims that were reported in the story, and the board of directors has since launched an investigation.
The future of Wynn Resorts, while now in the hands of Maddox, is uncertain, especially given the fact that Wynn the founder is so synonymous with the brand itself. Wynn gained success for his over-the-top, luxurious casino resorts, and was also one of the first U.S.-based casino moguls to open a resort in Macau.
It also doesn’t help that the company is in the midst of launching and opening a number of new properties, including a new resort in Las Vegas, called Wynn Paradise Park, as well as the construction of Wynn Boston Harbor, which is scheduled to open in June 2019. Recently, Steve Wynn also announced plans to open a fourth hotel in Las Vegas where he hoped to charge nightly rates of $400 a night.
How the company proceeds with its scheduled plans, regains the trust of its employees and shareholders, and avoids punishment from regulators will be no doubt weigh heavily on the new CEO’s agenda.
Following the allegations, in late January, Wynn was also forced to resign as the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. The University of Pennsylvania also recently revoked an honorary degree that it gave to him.