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Matt Maddox to step down as Wynn CEO on Jan. 31

Howard Stutz
Howard Stutz
EconomyGaming
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Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox announced Tuesday he would leave his position with the Las Vegas Strip casino operator at the end of January, saying he committed to remain in the role for at least four years to help the company transition through the departure of founder Steve Wynn.

In a statement, Wynn Resorts Chairman Phil Satre said the company’s board made a unanimous request for Maddox to remain on the boards of Wynn Macau and Wynn Interactive through the end of 2022. Wynn Resorts operates Wynn Las Vegas and Wynn Encore on the Strip, Encore Boston Harbor in Massachusetts and three casinos in Macau.

“Matt has done an incredible job as CEO since his appointment four years ago,” Satre said. “He very successfully led the company through what could have been one of the most disruptive business transitions in decades.”

The news of Maddox’s impending departure overshadowed Wynn Resort’s third-quarter earnings results, which were also released Tuesday. Craig Billings, who is CEO of Wynn Interactive and is also president and chief financial officer of Wynn Resorts, was unanimously selected by the board to replace Maddox, effective Feb. 1, 2022.

Wynn said its net revenue was $994.6 million in the quarter that ended Sept. 30, 168.5 percent higher than the prior year’s third quarter, which was heavily influenced by the pandemic. The company’s Las Vegas operations produced $476 million in revenue, almost 48 percent of the total because of continued COVID-19 operating restrictions at Wynn’s Macau casinos.

Wynn reduced its net loss to $166.2 million, compared to a $758.1 million net loss in the third quarter of 2020.

J.P. Morgan Joe Greff told investors in a research note the “future trajectory” for Las Vegas should bode well for Wynn’s Strip properties.

“Momentum has continued into the fourth quarter,” Greff wrote. “The leisure strength in recent months has been complemented by recent recovery in group (and) convention business.”

Maddox became CEO in February 2018 after the sudden resignation of Steve Wynn as CEO and chairman less than a week after a Wall Street Journal article uncovered years of sexual misconduct and harassment allegations by Wynn against employees.

“When that transition happened, I made the commitment that I was going to make sure this company didn't lose what it was built on,” Maddox said in response to an analyst question on the company’s quarterly earnings conference call. “That's what I wanted to achieve. And we've done that.”

Satre credited Maddox with helping in an initial 12-month transition of the company that included new policies, many directed toward sexual harassment prevention. A compliance committee was created along with numerous procedures to prevent any harassment allegation from going unchecked.

Wynn Resorts was fined $20 million by the Nevada Gaming Commission in January 2019 to settle a 10-count complaint for failing to report or investigate the allegations against Steve Wynn. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission fined the company $35 million in May 2019, saying executives failed to disclose the allegations against Steve Wynn.

Maddox himself was fined $500,000 by Massachusetts gaming regulators for his “clear failure” to investigate at least one misconduct complaint.

However, less than a year after getting the $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor opened, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the casino industry worldwide.

Maddox said on the conference call that the pandemic, “frankly, elongated my program a little bit.”

He was the first Strip CEO to publish and implement health and safety operating guidelines for when Wynn reopened its two Las Vegas casinos in June 2020 following a 78-day shutdown.

Maddox, who consulted with the head of global health security and pandemic research at Georgetown University on the guidelines, shared the report with the rest of the gaming industry.

“When (COVID-19) hit, I realized (we) needed to lead through that and make sure that we come out better than ever,” Maddox said on the call. “There's really nothing more to it. I committed to four years, and (Jan. 31, 2022) is my four-year anniversary.”

Maddox has been with Wynn Resorts for two decades, which included time as the top financial executive in Macau when the company’s first resort was under construction in the mid-2000s.

In a video sent to Wynn employees at the same time his departure was announced, Maddox credited the company’s workforce for handling “really tough times” and becoming “a model” for the hospitality industry.

“People were looking at Wynn for what to do, and I knew all along that the number one asset that this company has, are all of our employees,” he said. “It's not the chandeliers or the marble or the big rooms. It's you.”

Satre said Maddox’s handling of the pandemic and the economic fallout “proved” to be the correct procedure.

“Make decisions focused on the welfare of employees, guests and communities, and invariably the business and its shareholders will reap the rewards,” Satre said. “He was a leader in the recovery of the Nevada hospitality industry, and his leadership in this area was recognized nationally as well.”

Billings joined Wynn as CFO in March 2017. He has been a board member of Wynn Macau since August 2018. Prior to joining Wynn Resorts, Billings held senior executive positions in Australia and the United Kingdom during his time as chief digital officer at Aristocrat Leisure.

For now, Billings will continue as CEO of Wynn Interactive, which oversees WynnBet, the company’s online sports betting operation.

Updated on Nov. 10, 2021, at 10:48 a.m. to include third-quarter results.

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