Steve Wynn is the casino tycoon who has spent most of his life, living a life of luxury. Rolling in billions of dollars of cash — his net worth is more than CAD $4 billion — luxury homes and schmoozing with the political and show business elite.
Steve Wynn is a “towering figure in Las Vegas and the wider gambling industry,” according to the Wall Street Journal. His iconic resorts feature artificial volcanoes and dancing fountains and regularly host World Heavyweight Championship Bouts for the rich, influential and famous.
He is the money-man behind some of the most popular Casino tourist hot spots on the Las Vegas strip: the Mirage, Treasure Island and the Bellagio. US President Donald Trump has described him as a “great friend” within the last 12 months.
Wynn’s conglomerate is currently constructing a CAD $2.8 billion casino in Boston. Guests at his CAD $4.5 billion Wynn Palace in Macau ride air-conditioned gondolas nine meters over an artificial lake to arrive to the front door.
This guy had it all. Until today. Today, all that changed.
Now, Wynn Resorts Ltd. will need to get used to life without Steve Wynn as CEO.
Wynn resigns amid sexual harassment claims
The Las Vegas legend (whose signature graced the side of the city’s most fancy Casino) stepped down as chairman and chief executive of his company Wynn Resorts — which specializes in high end resorts and casinos — after a Wall Street Journal investigation uncovered decades of alleged sexual harassment and abuse.
Wynn, 76, has vehemently denied the accusations
“In the last couple of weeks, I have found myself the focus of an avalanche of negative publicity,” Wynn said in a statement. “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.” Wynn concluded.
Wynn has previously accused his former wife, Elaine Wynn, of manipulating the scandal as a legal strategy to modify a company share agreement emanating from the couple’s 2010 divorce. Elaine Wynn has denied doing so.
Wynn joins a long list of recently disgraced men
The self-made billionaire joins a list of previously powerful men who have been brought down by the allegations of sexual misconduct sweeping America’s boardrooms. Less than two weeks ago, Wynn was in many ways the face of the U.S. casino business after dominating it for five decades. However, after a fast and thoroughly humiliating downfall, he’s now mentioned in the same breath as disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and has been obliged to step down as the Republican National Committee’s finance chair.
To rub salt into his company’s wound, Wynn Resorts has lost nearly a fifth of its market value in the last week-and-a-half. The stock appeared on track to potentially regain some of its lost ground this Thursday, rallying as much as 9.1 % in the Dow Jones pre-market trading in New York.
What now for Wynn Resorts?
Wynn Resorts has appointed Matt Maddox, its president since 2013, as CEO and Boone Wayson as non-executive chairman effective immediately.
Maddox has also been a non-executive director of Wynn Macau Ltd, a majority owned subsidiary of the Las Vegas-based company. Until 2014, Maddox was also its chief financial officer, according to the company website.
“If Steve Wynn is considered not suitable, according to the law he should give up his shares,” said Wang Changbin, director of the Gaming Teaching & Research Centre at Macao Polytechnic Institute. “The gaming law’s suitability clause applies to major shareholders as well as executives and directors” he continued.
Macau is particularly significant business territory for Wynn Resorts, accounting for a large majority proportion of its revenue and profits.
Can Wynn Resorts Survive?
Several leading gaming business analysts have speculated that without someone as charismatic as Wynn at the helm, the company’s future successes may be in doubt.
“It raises the questions of how much the company is reliant on the name and on the man,” said Chris Grove, managing director of Eilers & Krejcik Gaming. “And how much separation does this resignation create in terms of the brand, and what kind of harm it might have undertaken if it were a protracted thing?”
Wynn’s fall may potentially make his company a takeover target for another casino operators, in particular, Caesars Entertainment Corp., a company which has long coveted a casino in Boston and Macau. It could also draw interest from other private-equity investors, who could leverage the company’s considerable cash flow, or from another Asian leisure company looking to procure a slice of the world’s largest gambling market, Macau.
Wynn’s effect on the online gambling industry
Steve Wynn has had a formidable talent for betting on long shots. He dropped out of Yale Law School to operate his father’s bingo parlour and then moved to a Nevada backwater called Las Vegas. He took a simple slot machine town and refurbished the skyline with modern luxury gaming emporium hotels like the Mirage and the Bellagio.
The emerging online casino industry followed his lead and the elegant online casino lobbies you see on display at Jackpot City, Royal Vegas and Ruby Fortune pay homage to Wynn’s luxury mindset. It may be argued that, in playing his role in creating the Vegas ’buzz’, Wynn played a small part in the rise of the Live Dealer Casino, a tool for online players to recreate that exciting ‘Vegas’ feel.
Steve Wynn departs now, under his own momentum. The best thing that can happen now when the new leadership emerges, is the company cleansing itself of all traces of sexism but continuing to play the ‘long game’ inspiring the industry as a whole with revolutionary changes.