Late Tuesday, Wynn’s board of directors announced that it had “reluctantly” accepted Steve Wynn’s resignation as its CEO and chairman. Wynn president Matt Maddox has been appointed the company’s new CEO, while director Boone Wayson has been named non-executive chairman.
Nearly two weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal published a bombshell report alleging a pattern of sexual harassment by Steve Wynn against Wynn Resorts female staff going back decades. Since then, there’s been a steady drip of followup reports, including allegations that a $7.5m settlement Wynn reached with a manicurist in 2005 involved a paternity claim.
The allegations prompted investigations by gaming regulators in Nevada, Macau and Massachusetts, and it was becoming increasingly apparent that regulators were questioning Steve Wynn’s suitability to remain at the helm of Wynn Resorts, possibly jeopardizing the company’s future operations in these jurisdictions.
Wayson said it was with “a collective heavy heart” that the board had accepted the resignation of “our founder, CEO and friend Steve Wynn.” The company said the details of Steve’s separation agreement will be disclosed when they’re finalized.
Steve, who has denied the allegations against him, issued his own statement in tandem with the Wynn statement, saying he’s been “the focus of an avalanche of negative publicity” in which “a rush to judgment takes precedence over everything else, including the facts.”
As a result, Steve concluded that “I cannot continue to be effective in my current roles” and thus he was stepping down from his leadership of Wynn Resorts, “a company I founded and that I love.”
Steve said he was proud of what Wynn Resorts had accomplished and expressed confidence that “the institution we created … will remain standing in the long term.” Steve expressed confidence that Wynn was “in good hands” with Matt Maddox at the helm and was “well positioned to carry on the plans and vision for the company I created.”
There’s no question that Steve Wynn will go down in history as one of the casino industry’s leading figures, having effectively transformed Las Vegas from a pure gambling town into a world-renowned tourist destination. Wynn was also an early mover in Macau, and put an emphasis on opulence that few operators dared to attempt to match.
And yet all his accomplishments may end up overshadowed by the unseemly allegations that continue to emerge. The ongoing controversy had already led to questions as to whether the company will continue to use the Wynn brand, given that its logo is Steve’s actual signature.