Wynn, 76, has strenuously denied the allegations, calling them “preposterous.” In sourcing their story The Wall Street Journal contacted more than 150 current or former Wynn employees and claimed they approached every single one of the sources — none had reached out to the highly respected newspaper.
Regulators in Nevada, Massachusetts and Macau had taken the allegations seriously, mounting reviews alongside an internal investigation launched by Wynn Resorts’ own board.
Wynn’s demise is the greatest fall from grace to occur in the global gaming industry for many years. Wynn stepped down as Republican National Committee finance chair last month. Ivy League school the University of Pennsylvania revoked an honorary degree given to him — the first time such an action had occurred in over 100 years. But apparently these sanctions were not enough.
Bloomberg is reporting that Steve Wynn alone made the decision to step down.
The company has appointed current President Matt Maddox as its CEO effective immediately. Company board member Boone Wayson will take over as Chairman.
”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,” Wayson said in a statement late Tuesday in the US.
“In the last couple of weeks, I have found myself the focus of an avalanche of negative publicity,” Wynn said. “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.” Wynn added he was resigning from “a company I founded and that I love.”
According to sources there are no plans to change the name of the casino company despite Wynn’s departure, and Wynn is still living at Wynn Resorts’ Las Vegas property in a rented villa.
Wynn Resorts shares have plummeted 19% since the allegations surfaced. Trading of Wynn Macau Limited was suspended several hours ago pending imminent announcements.
Just hours before the story of Mr Wynn’s resignation broke, IAG had been contacted by institutional investors speculating on the possibility of companies taking advantage of the turmoil to seek a piece of the lucrative Macau gaming industry. Mr Wynn controls 21% of Wynn Resorts through his own 12% holding and the 9% stake held by his twice-over ex-wife, Elaine Wynn. That 21% stake remains the largest controlled by a single shareholder, giving regulators cause to continue to examine whether he is a fit and proper person for the industry. However, it is hardly enough to stave off a corporate raid, and Elaine and Steve Wynn are currently embroiled in long-running court battle in which Elaine Wynn is seeking to regain voting control of her 9% stake.
Mr Wynn’s name could not be more associated with the casinos owned by Wynn Resorts and Wynn Macau Limited. They all bear his name, and his signature – emblazoned across the top of each building – is the company logo. Many industry commentators have expressed concern about how the casinos could operate without Mr Wynn as CEO. But clearly the allegations against him made his position impossible.