Wynn Resorts Vows to Ban Steve Wynn from Its Casinos
Wynn Resorts execs told the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) it’s willing to ban company founder Steve Wynn from any of its casinos. That was the story Wynn CEO Matt Maddox told regulators at a recent hearing.
Maddox promised the MGC commissioners he would issue orders banning Steve Wynn from resorts in Nevada, Massachusetts, and Macau. That includes the $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor casino resort in Everett.
The promise sounds wild, but Matt Maddox is making any promise he can to keep the company’s Everett casino license. It is part of a year-long campaign to keep Encore Boston Harbor’s license. Maddox is ramping up the effort now that the MGC decision is days away.
It began in the spring of 2018, in the weeks after Steve Wynn left the company. At the time, Maddox told the commissioners, “Steve Wynn is not Wynn Resorts. This company is not about a man. It hasn’t been about a man for 18 years.”
Nevada Gaming Commission Fine
Many would contradict that assertion, including the Nevada Gaming Commission. Two months ago, Nevada regulators submitted a report that stated Wynn’s board ignored its CEO’s wrongdoing. The report showed ten broad examples of Wynn’s board member ignoring or even covering up misconduct by Steve Wynn.
Ultimately, the Nevada Gaming Commission issued a $20 million fine against Wynn Resorts. It was three times larger than the previous record fine for a Nevada casino operator. Most importantly, though, Nevada allowed Wynn Resorts to keep its gaming license.
Will MGC Strip Wynn of Boston License?
The question is now whether Massachusetts officials will do the same. Nevada had a 50-year relationship with Steve Wynn and a 20-year relationship with Wynn Resorts. Massachusetts has a 5-year relationship with both — and the company has yet to contribute tax revenues to the treasury.
Encore Boston Harbor opens on June 23. If the MGC’s 5-member panel decides to strip Wynn’s license, now would be the time. It would be a huge blow to Wynn Resorts, but the company could sell the Everett resort to another operator.
Boston Globe Called for Maddox’s Resignation
Another option is available to Wynn Resorts. In recent days, Boston newspapers floated the idea that Matt Maddox step down as Wynn chief executive.
Larry Edelman of The Boston Globe called for Matt Maddox to resign as Wynn Resorts chief executive. Edelman wrote, “If he didn’t know anything, he should have, and his resignation would cement the company’s claim that it has cleaned house.”
Joan Vennochi, a Boston Globe columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner, agreed with Edelman. Vennochi added, “Steve Wynn is gone from Wynn Resorts. But not his ugly legacy. That lingers, as long as Matt Maddox, Wynn’s handpicked successor, runs Wynn Resorts.”
Should Matt Maddox Resign?
The call for Maddox’s resignation makes a certain sense. Over the past year, Matt Maddox remade the Wynn Resorts’ board of directors. As Elaine Wynn called for a purge, Maddox did exactly that. Directors who backed Steve Wynn resigned or announced they would not seek another term.
Maddox brought in three new outside directors (all women) and one inside director. He announced he refreshed and reformed the board. Everyone who served as board members in the Steve Wynn era are gone — all but one.
Of the prior regime, only Matt Maddox continues to sit on the board. As an acknowledged protege of the 77-year old company founder, his continued presence gives the Massachusetts Gaming Commission room to complain — and a cause to strip the license.
Banning Steve Wynn from Wynn Casinos
That might be why the current CEO promised to have the former CEO banned from Wynn properties. Matt Maddox needs a clean break from Steve Wynn, as much for himself as his company. In the April 2nd hearing before the MGC, Maddox told regulators that character witnesses would say, “Matt Maddox has been an extraordinary leader.”
For its part, the Nevada Gaming Commission supports Matthew Maddox. In its recent public statements, the NGC said it “found [Maddox] suitable as an officer of Wynn Resorts.”
The regulators also said Maddox “remains in good standing with the Nevada Gaming Control Board.”