Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox, 46, shocked the gaming industry earlier this month when he announced he would depart the casino company at the end of January 2022.
Wynn Resorts Chairman Phil Satre this week discussed Maddox’s decision in a letter to employees and shareholders.
Matt led our Company through two of the most fundamentally challenging events any executive could possibly expect: the abrupt departure of a founder and a pandemic,” Satre explained of Steve Wynn’s swift exit in early 2018 amid sexual misconduct allegations and the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis.
“Most companies would hope to emerge merely intact, at best, on the other side of those events,” Satre continued. “Remarkably, Matt’s stewardship resulted in a Wynn Resorts stronger and more stable than it has ever been.”
Craig Billings, Wynn’s current president and CFO since May 2019, is set to succeed Maddox as CEO effective February 1, 2022.
Matt Maddox has been with Wynn Resorts for more than 20 years. He was long thought to be Steve Wynn’s protégé, up until the billionaire’s reputation was forever tarnished.
Despite being dubbed Steve Wynn’s right-hand man, Wynn Resorts promoted Maddox to CEO after the company’s founder resigned in February of 2018. There were plenty of concerns.
In Massachusetts, the state allowed Wynn Resorts to maintain its gaming license for its $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor casino, which opened in June of 2019. Massachusetts fined Wynn Resorts $35.5 million for its alleged shortcomings in responding to Steve Wynn’s wrongful conduct, and also lambasted Maddox for his “questionable judgment and other considerable shortcomings.”
Maddox was forced to undergo executive training and leadership programs in Massachusetts, too. In his letter, Satre says Maddox was undeterred by the assessments.
Satre says Maddox was able to successfully overhaul the corporation’s image, as well as its internal controls regarding the reporting of alleged misconduct.
“Our employees view him as their advocate (no small feat for a CEO),” Satre continued. “Our communities and elected officials appreciate his integrity and honesty, and our regulators appreciate the difficult work he has accomplished.”
Wynn Resorts presumably doesn’t need to worry about Matt Maddox’s non-compete clause should the company impose one. Satre says the CEO is readying to embark into a new sector. The gaming industry veteran added that the Wynn board tried to convince Maddox to stay at the Wynn helm.
Matt wants to explore opportunities outside of gaming and now is the right time for him to do that from a career standpoint,” Satre explained. “I commend him for it, even as I regret it.”
Speculation has swirled regarding Maddox’s next steps since his departure announcement. Some in the Las Vegas Valley wonder if the CEO is mulling an entry into politics.
Maddox is a popular figure in the state for his company’s response to the pandemic. Wynn Resorts played an integral role in the state combating the pandemic. Its Las Vegas Strip properties were used as mass testing and vaccination clinics in 2020.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) is up for reelection next fall. Maddox has donated to both Republicans and Democrats in the past. The PredictIt betting market for Nevada’s 2022 gubernatorial race has whoever emerges as the Republican candidate favored, GOP shares currently trading at 53 cents.
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