Wynn board pays $35.5m, brings saga to an end

Disputes conclusions about Maddox, pays his $500,000 fine

THE WYNN RESORTS BOARD of directors said on Tuesday that it disagrees with a number of comments and conclusions about President and CEO Matt Maddox contained in a recent decision issued by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, but to avoid a protracted legal dispute had gone ahead and approved payment of the $35 million fine imposed on the company as well as the $500,000 fine assessed on Maddox.

The board also said it will work with the Gaming Commission to implement the other conditions contained in the decision, including executive coaching for Maddox and the hiring of an independent monitor to oversee the company’s human resource policies, its use of non-disparagement agreements, and the hiring of outside counsel.

The announcement would appear to bring to an end the Gaming Commission’s lengthy investigation into the suitability of Wynn Resorts to retain its casino license in Massachusetts. That investigation focused on the alleged sexual misconduct of founder Steve Wynn and the company’s response to that misconduct. The decision issued by the Gaming Commission on April 30 allowed Wynn Resorts to retain its license as long as the fines were paid and other conditions were met.

The gambling company said it forwarded $35.5 million to the Gaming Commission on Tuesday, two days before the deadline for complying with the decision. Wynn Resorts reaffirmed it intends to open the Encore Boston Harbor casino in Everett on June 23.

In its decision, the five-member Gaming Commission said its vote to deem Maddox suitable was not unanimous. “Questions were raised as to Mr. Maddox’s sincerity, his genuine concern for the company workforce as a whole versus the bottom line, his ability to ensure that an effective human resources division and robust compliance program are in place, his adequacy in attention and diligence as to all matters at issue here, and his ability to communicate effectively as CEO,” the decision said. “The commission vetted these questions with care and notable concern.”

Ultimately, a majority of commissioners concluded that Maddox’s shortcomings were due more to issues of competence than suitability. In other words, he needs work on his skills as an executive but met the suitability standards of honesty, integrity, and good character.

In its statement, the Wynn Resorts board of directors did not specify which comments or conclusions about Maddox in the Gaming Commission decision it disagreed with, but said those comments and conclusions were not supported by the evidence.

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

“We would support [Maddox’s] decision to exercise his rights and appeal the fine imposed upon him, and believe he would rightly prevail in his appeal,” the board said. “However, that appeal would delay the final conclusion of this matter, and therefore we appreciate Matt’s decision to forego an appeal in order to allow closure for the company.”

The board added: “We believe Matt’s leadership has been, and will continue to be, essential in our transformation from a founder-led company to an innovative global corporation. Matt has created a more diverse, inclusive, and respectful workplace culture – all while maintaining focus on executing the company’s business plan.”