Phil Satre Wants Wynn Execs to Speak to Massachusetts GC
Phil Satre, Wynn Resorts chairman of the board, said he hopes to have CEO Matt Maddox and the other board members appear before the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) when the regulatory panel decides whether to rescind Wynn Resorts’ gambling license.
The MGC has conducted a 7-month investigation into whether the Las Vegas casino company should retain its casino license for Encore Boston Harbor.
Encore Boston Harbor, a $2.4 billion integrated casino resort whose development included dredging the Mystic River, is set to open in the Boston suburb of Everett next year. Wynn Resorts, which won a license to build the casino in 2015, currently is the owner of the property.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission probe is looking into the events which led to company founder and former CEO, Steve Wynn, to resign on February 6. A January 18 report in the Wall Street Journal alleged Steve Wynn was guilty of a pattern of sexual harassment of Wynn Resorts workers.
Wynn Board in the Spotlight
After Wynn left the company and divested himself of 12 millions shares of company stock, allegations surfaced that the Wynn board of directors had known about Steve Wynn’s misconduct as early as 2005 and had made payments to keep accusations against the CEO hidden from the public.
Those allegations were part of a 2015 lawsuit by Elaine Wynn, the former wife of Steve Wynn and the company’s current number one shareholder. Elaine Wynn alleged in the lawsuit that the Wynn board of directors were allies and cronies of Steve Wynn, so they did not deserve to go on directing the company’s affairs.
Phil Satre: Board Reacted Appropriately
To limit the effects of such allegations, new CEO Matt Maddox brought in four new board members, including former Harrah’s CEO and Nordstrom chairman Phil Satre. Mr. Satre wants to impress the Massachusetts Gaming Commission that Wynn is under a new era of leadership which had no complicity in any misconduct Steve Wynn might have engaged in.
In a recent interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Phil Satre told Nevada’s biggest newspaper that the board of directors had moved to “take charge” and “react appropriately” to the scandal involving its former head.
Steve Wynn Denies Allegations
For his part, Steve Wynn has denied the allegations categorically. Wynn says that the Wall Street Journal, British tabloids, and other media outlets reported allegations that were part of his disgruntled ex-wife’s lawsuit and suggested they were designed to slander him in a shareholders dispute which involved a public relations element.
Wynn sued a Las Vegas law firm for defamation. He did the same to the Associated Press and an AP reporter who published an article which involved startling and perhaps sensationalized allegations by a Las Vegas woman. Those allegations were so wild that they strained credulity, so Steve Wynn appears to be correct that some of the allegations were unvetted and spurious.
On the other hand, when Elaine Wynn sued to gain control of her $1.6 billion in Wynn shares in 2015, she filed as a whistleblower and claimed the Wynn board was helping her ex-husband keep major secrets from shareholders. Since those charges were made over two years before the Wall Street Journal article, it gives weight to her charges that Wynn board members knew of the charges against Steve Wynn and had helped cover them up.
What Happens If Wynn Loses License?
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s decision is expected in the next 10 days, with profound implications for the city of Everett and the casino company. If Wynn Resorts lost its license, it probably would sell Encore Boston Harbor to a rival casino company, but such a deal would be complicated by the fact Everett Mayor Joe DeMaria has veto power over any potential sale.