Billionaire Steve Wynn resigns as chairman of Wynn Macau, shares to resume trading on Thursday
Casino mogul resigns from all executive positions at Wynn Resorts and Wynn Macau after allegations of sexual misconduct were levelled against him by dozens of past and present employees
Billionaire casino mogul Steve Wynn has stepped down as chief executive of Wynn Resorts amid sexual abuse allegations levelled against him by former and current employees late last month.
Matt Maddox, the current president, will be appointed as the new chief executive, according to a company statement on Tuesday.
The casino mogul also resigned from his position as chairman and CEO of Wynn Macau, the Hong Kong-listed company said in a statement on Wednesday.
Shares of Wynn Macau, which were suspended from trading in Hong Kong on Wednesday, are expected to resume trading on Thursday, the company said.
Maddox, known to be Wynn’s right-hand man,, will also become the chairman of Wynn Macau, while Allan Zeman, an independent non-executive director, has been appointed as non-executive chairman.
What remains to be seen is the attitude of the Macau authorities on the matter, say analysts, as the concession of the local resort expires in 2020.
Wynn Macau and the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau in Macau did not reply to email requests for comment.
“It is with a collective heavy heart, that the board of directors of Wynn Resorts today accepted the resignation of our founder, CEO and friend Steve Wynn,” said non-executive director of the board Boone Wayson. “Steve Wynn is an industry giant. He is a philanthropist and a beloved leader and visionary.”
The bombshell announcement came after reports emerged at the end of January that Wynn was accused by dozens of past and present employees to have allegedly conducted a decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct, which involved Wynn routinely pressuring employees to perform sex acts, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Wynn at first denied the accusations as “preposterous” after the news was published, but resigned as finance chairman of the Republican National Committee a day later, citing “distraction” caused by the report in him doing the job.
In resigning as the CEO, Wynn also cited “negative publicity” as a major reason in a statement.
“In the last couple of weeks, I have found myself the focus of an avalanche of negative publicity. 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,” said Wynn.
“I am extremely proud of everything we have built at this company. Most of all, I am proud of our employees.”
Wynn Resorts, the Las Vegas-based casino operator founded by Wynn, controls Wynn Macau, one of the six major casino operators in the city, which is the only legal place for gaming in China.
Rating agency S&P Global Ratings revised their rating outlook for Wynn Resorts from stable to negative on January 30, two days after the news, citing the mounting misconduct allegations against Wynn.
It said at the time that the allegations could impair the company’s brand and ability to maintain or renew its gaming licences.
“In the US, people are extremely sensitive to any news that is related to unfair treatment towards women,” said Sophie Lin, associate director of S&P Global Corporate Ratings.
“In China, investors might not be as sensitive to this news as those in the US, so it still needs to wait and see how much of an impact this will have on Wynn Macau. The gaming authority could not decide whether to renew its licence on this single incident.”
Officials from the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau met Wynn Macau’s management on January 29 before issuing a statement expressing concern.
“The bureau reiterates that the Macau SAR is concerned about the eligibility of the casino gaming concessionaires’ major shareholders and directors and the principal employees in casinos, and the requirements will be strictly enforced.”
It comes as the process to renew highly lucrative casino operating licences in the world’s richest gaming destination enters a crucial phase.
Wynn Macau, which generates around 70 per cent of Wynn Resorts’ revenue, has seen its shares hammered after the WSJ report on January 29 in Hong Kong, falling as much as 6.5 per cent.
The company said on January 30 in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange that “it was
aware of certain media comments regarding the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau of Macau and will cooperate fully with any requests”.
Wynn Macau is owned and operated by Wynn Macau Limited, which opened to the public on 6 September 2006.
Wynn Resorts, which was listed on the Nasdaq in 2002, owned four casino hotels as of December 2017: the Wynn Las Vegas and Encore in Las Vegas and Wynn Macau and Wynn Palace in China.
Through the years, Wynn has amassed a net worth of more than US$3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Shares of Wynn Resorts have shed more than 18 per cent to date after the news broke on January 26.