On Thursday, Wynn Resorts execs met with members of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) to update them on the progress of the $2.4b Wynn Boston Harbor resort currently under construction in Everett, just outside Boston. The execs confirmed that the project is on track to open in June 2019.
Speaking to reporters following the hearing, Wynn Boston Harbor president Robert DeSalvio said the company was “absolutely considering a rebranding of the project” due to the ongoing controversy surrounding Steve Wynn’s alleged sexual impropriety with Wynn Resorts’ female staff going back decades.
Earlier this month, the embattled Steve Wynn sold off his 11.8% stake in the company he founded after it became clear that holding on to his stake would only prolong the company’s negative association with his alleged behavior.
Steve resigned as Wynn Resorts’ CEO/chairman in February, at which point the company announced that it had reached an understanding with Steve to provide him with written notice “in the event that the Company ceases to use the WYNN name and trademark.” Speaking Thursday, DeSalvio said the rebranding of the unfinished Boston project was “under active consideration right now.”
The company has to date resisted calls for rebranding, in part due to the brand’s high visibility in the high-end casino world. The brand has an inextricable connection to its founder, including its current logo, which is Steve’s actual signature.
Steve’s exit from the company hasn’t spared it from further bad press. This week, the Wall Street Journal quoted a former Wynn staffer saying her efforts to report Steve’s sexual assaults to the casino’s head of human resources were met with instructions to “keep your mouth shut” and not to “try to make this into anything.” Other Wynn staff have reported that their efforts to report similar allegations prompted senior Wynn execs to take steps to fire those claiming harassment.
The MGC is currently conducting an investigation into how much Wynn Resorts knew of Steve’s efforts to buy his accusers’ silence, and why these efforts weren’t disclosed to Massachusetts officials when they were considering the company’s suitability to operate in the state. The MGC stated that Steve’s resignation wouldn’t halt their investigation, which they say will conclude no later than this summer.
During two days of hearings in Las Vegas this week, Steve’s ex-wife Elaine Wynn said she informed Wynn’s general counsel Kim Sinatra in 2009 that she’d “received information alleging that Mr. Wynn had raped an employee at the hotel in 2005.” Sinatra later denied receiving such information, and Elaine acknowledged that she didn’t repeat the allegations to members of Wynn’s board of directors.