The strained relationship between Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox and the company’s largest shareholder, Elaine Wynn, is set to determine how the Massachusetts Gaming Commission rules following last week’s hearing into the company’s suitability to hold a state gaming license.
The three-day hearing included revelations by Maddox that he had initially believed sexual assault accusations against former Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn were part of a campaign orchestrated by Elaine Wynn, and by the company’s EVP of Corporate Security James Stern that he (Stern) had ordered surveillance on her.
As reported by The Boston Herald, Maddox denied any knowledge of spying on Elaine Wynn, but had given the green light to surveillance on a salon employee at Wynn Las Vegas who he said was known to say “a lot of really negative things about Wynn and that Wynn was going to go down.”
Maddox also claimed that, although he was aware of a US$7.5 million settlement made to a former salon employee in 2005, he had been told at the time that the payment was authorized by both Steve and Elaine Wynn as a personal gift to a troubled employee.
While Maddox denied knowledge of surveillance on Elaine Wynn, Stern told the hearing he (Stern) ordered her surveilled due to suspicions she was meeting with Wynn Resorts co-founder Kazuo Okada, who was himself engaged in a legal dispute with the company after being removed from the board and having his 20% stake in the company forcibly redeemed.
Elaine Wynn, who actively campaigned last year against numerous former and current board members including Maddox, has denied any such meetings took place.
Maddox told the hearing that he deserved praise for the changes he has overseen at Wynn Resorts in the 14 months since Steve Wynn’s departure.
“I believe that I’m the exact right person, at this point in time, to make Wynn Resorts a great company,” he said. “I think you will hear that Matt Maddox is an extraordinary leader because of what he’s done. I would like to be judged based on when I took over and the actions that were done.”
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is expected to hand down its findings on whether Wynn Resorts will retain its gaming license – and the ability to operate its US$2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor – later this week.