Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn, besieged by sexual misconduct allegations and widening scrutiny of his financial empire, resigned Tuesday as CEO of his company.
"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," the company said in a statement, attributed to board director Boone Wayson. "Steve Wynn is an industry giant. 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."
Allegations of sexual misconduct against Wynn prompted Nevada's powerful Gaming Control Board to launch an investigation last week, a move that put further strain on the billionaire's finances.
The bad publicity surrounding Wynn, 76 and with a net worth of about $3.6 billion, has already cost him $463 million, according to published reports.
Wynn said late Tuesday that such publicity has been too overwhelming to continue in his current role.
"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. 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."
Wynn resigned Jan. 27 as the Republican National Committee finance chair following the sexual assault allegations.
The gambling industry mogul was reported to have engaged in sexual misconduct with company employees over decades, and that one case led to a $7.5 million settlement, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.
Wynn has vigorously disputed the accusations, which he attributes to a campaign led by his ex-wife Elaine Wynn. Devon Spurgeon, a spokesperson for Elaine Wynn, denied the allegation.
The Journal report quoted accounts in which dozens of people who worked at Wynn casinos said his behavior represented a pattern of sexual misconduct, including allegedly pressuring some employees to perform sex acts with him.
Steve Wynn is listed with a current net worth of $3.6 billion on the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans. Along with Wynn Las Vegas, Steve Wynn created some of the most notable gaming and hotel landmarks in Las Vegas, including The Mirage, Treasure Island, and Bellagio.
"The Wynn Resorts team and I have built houses of brick," Steve Wynn said in his statement Tuesday. "Which is to say, the institution we created — a collection of the finest designers and architects ever assembled, as well as an operating philosophy now ingrained in the minds and hearts of our entire team — will remain standing for the long term. I am extremely proud of everything we have built at this company. Most of all, I am proud of our employees."
Since 2013, Steve Wynn has contributed nearly $2.4 million to GOP candidates and party organizations around the country, including Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and 2017 special election winners. Some Republicans in Congress, including Nevada’s Dean Heller, have already announced they are donating contributions they received from Steve Wynn to charity.
Steve Wynn faces investigations by gambling regulators in two states.
The board of directors for Wynn Resorts has appointed Matt Maddox, currently president of the company, as its CEO effective immediately.
The board of directors' statement Tuesday was effusive in its praise for Steve Wynn and made no mention of the sexual allegations against him.
"Steve Wynn created modern Las Vegas," the board wrote. "He transformed the city into an economic powerhouse by making it a world-wide tourist destination. He designed, built and operated the most iconic resorts on the Las Vegas strip."