WYNN RESIGNS, COMPANY TOUTS EVERETT CASINO PLANS
By Michael P. Norton
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
FEB. 7, 2018.....Steve Wynn, the public face of the company building a $2.4 billion resort casino in Everett, has resigned less than two weeks after the Wall Street Journal detailed charges of "a decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct" by Wynn, including instances of pressuring employees to perform sex acts.
In a statement Tuesday night, Wynn Resorts said the company "will continue to fully focus" on its casino operations in Las Vegas and Macau, "as well as the construction of Wynn Boston Harbor, which will open in June 2019."
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission, which licensed Wynn to build the Everett casino, reopened its suitability review last week after the Journal report, and plans to hold a public meeting at 2 p.m. in Boston on Wednesday, with an update on the situation on its agenda.
Wynn was CEO and board chairman at Wynn Resorts. Company president Matt Maddox is taking over as CEO and Boone Wayson as board chairman.
"In the last couple of weeks, I have found myself the focus of an avalanche of negative publicity," Wynn said in announcing his resignation. "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, who has denied the allegations, stepped down as finance chair of the Republican National Committee shortly after the Journal published its report.
Massachusetts gaming regulators, who concluded that Wynn met suitability standards, have since the Wall Street Journal report said the company and its namesake Wynn failed to disclose to investigators in 2013 that Wynn privately paid out a $7.5 million settlement to resolve sexual harassment allegations.
The gaming commission has responded to the allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Wynn by opening a regulatory review to determine if Wynn and others involved in the company would still pass the strict suitability standards outlined in the state's gaming law.
The commission's Investigations and Enforcement Bureau Director Karen Wells told commission members last week that counsel for the casino company told her the settlement was withheld from regulators on advice of counsel, and that the settlement was entered into privately "to keep it from the public domain."
"There were no court documents filed that could have been identified in the course of the investigations," Wells said.
Gaming Commission Chairman Steve Crosby said last week that those working in Everett to build the casino should "feel fine" carrying on with their jobs.
In its statement, Wynn Resorts said its board had "reluctantly" announced its acceptance of Wynn's resignation.
"Steve Wynn is an industry giant," Wayson said. "He is a philanthropist and a beloved leader and visionary. He played the pivotal role in transforming Las Vegas into the entertainment destination it is today. He also assembled a world-class team of executives that will continue to meet the high standards of excellence that Steve Wynn created and the Wynn brand has come to represent."
The statement did not address the allegations outlined in the Journal report, and said details of Wynn's separation agreement would be disclosed "when they are finalized."
"Wynn Resorts remains as committed as ever to upholding the highest standards and being an inclusive and supportive employer," the company said. "In fact, more than 40 percent of all Wynn Las Vegas management are women; the highest in the gaming industry."
Wynn said in his statement that Maddox and his team "are well positioned to carry on the plans and vision for the company I created."
Gov. Charlie Baker and one of the Democrats running for governor this year responded to the overnight news.
"Governor Baker believes it is the right decision for Wynn Resorts to terminate its relationship with Mr. Wynn in light of recent disturbing allegations, and supports the Gaming Commission's ongoing review," Baker communications director Lizzy Guyton said.
Setti Warren, a Democratic candidate for governor, said, "Steve Wynn is not a suitable partner for Massachusetts, but it is not enough that he steps down from his public role. In order for Wynn Resorts to be suitable to run the casino in Everett, the company must separate itself from every single person involved in covering up Steve Wynn's terrible behavior and Wynn must give up his significant stake in the business."
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