The Las Vegas and Macau heavyweight continues to deny allegations made against him by former workers but has opted to stand down in the best interest of Wynn Resorts.

By Joe McDonough

Posted on February 7, 2018

Billionaire casino mogul Steve Wynn has resigned as CEO and chairman of Wynn Resorts, the company he founded, amid allegations of sexual assault and harassment.

The Wall Street Journal published a bombshell report in January, in which several employees of his Las Vegas casinos accused him of coercing them into performing sex acts.

A married manicurist told WSJ, the now 75-year-old forced her to have sex with him not long after he opened his flagship casino Wynn Las Vegas in 2005, and was later paid a US$7.5 million settlement.

A former massage therapist also accused Wynn of taking advantage of his position of power. She says he instructed her to stimulate his genitalia during sessions, while another worker says Wynn grabbed her by the waist and told her to kiss him after rubbing his genitals and talking dirty to her.

The WSJ contacted more than 150 people who work or had worked for Wynn, and found a pattern of inappropriate behaviour.

It is the first time such explosive sexual harassment claims have been made against the CEO and founder of a major publicly held US company.

Once business rivals, Wynn is now a political ally to President Donald Trump, having donated millions to the Republican Party. He also stepped down as Republican National Committee finance chair last month.

The University of Pennsylvania grouped him in with Bill Cosby, revoking the honorary degrees they gave to the pair. It is the first time the Ivy League school has taken such action in a century.

But he continues to categorically deny the assault claims, suggesting his ex-wife Elaine concocted them so she could manipulate a larger divorce settlement.

“The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous,” he said in a statement.

“We find ourselves in a world where people can make allegations, regardless of the truth, and a person is left with the choice of weathering insulting publicity or engaging in multi-year lawsuits.”

Despite maintaining his innocence, Wynn announced on Tuesday that he would be standing down.

“In the last couple of weeks, I have found myself the focus of an avalanche of negative publicity,” he 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.

“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.”

The president of Wynn Resorts, Matt Maddox, was appointed his replacement by the board of directors, and Wynn has given his endorsement of the decision, saying the company is in “good hands”.

According to Bloomberg, Wynn will remain the single most influential shareholder even after the announcement, controlling approximately 21% of Wynn Resorts through his own holdings and the stake held by Elaine.

Regulators in Nevada and Massachusetts are reviewing the allegations, and Wynn Resorts’ board launched its own investigation. Wynn Resorts shares have dropped 19% since the allegations surfaced.