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Contrite, Transformed And Hiring: Wynn Resorts' Strategy To Keep Its Mass. Casino License

Wynn Resorts Chief Executive Matt Maddox, pictured at a meeting of the Nevada Gaming Commission on Feb. 26. (John Locher/AP)
Wynn Resorts Chief Executive Matt Maddox, pictured at a meeting of the Nevada Gaming Commission on Feb. 26. (John Locher/AP)

Wynn Resorts Chief Executive Matt Maddox told the Massachusetts Gaming Commission Tuesday that he is "truly sorry" for the way the company handled sexual misconduct allegations against founder Steve Wynn.

Maddox also said Wynn Resorts has undergone a "transformation" in the past 14 months, since the allegations surfaced publicly. And he emphasized that uncertainty about the company's future has caused employees and their families to worry about their livelihoods.

In opening remarks at a three-day hearing that will determine if Wynn Resorts is still suitable to hold its Massachusetts casino license, Maddox carefully chiseled three pillars of an argument that he hopes will enable the company to open the $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor as planned, in June.

The apparent goal is to make regulators see Wynn Resorts as contrite and changed — and as a key employer.

The commission convened at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center with a scathing new report from its Investigations and Enforcement Bureau in hand. Investigators found that some Wynn Resorts executives "disregarded" company policy when they learned of allegations against Wynn and "were part of affirmative efforts to conceal" those allegations.

The company quickly responded with a statement asserting that "any employee who was aware of allegations of sexual assault against the company's former chairman and did not investigate or report it is no longer with the company."

Maddox, in live testimony, touted "a totally refreshed board [and] a new management team." He said Wynn Resorts has metamorphosed from "a company that was about a man into a company that has values."

Maddox appeared emotional as he recalled an initial state of denial when the Wall Street Journal chronicled a pattern of alleged misconduct by Steve Wynn in a January 2018 report.

"The denial changed," he said, "and I began to realize that there were many victims, and those victims felt powerless. And for that, I am deeply remorseful. They felt that they didn't have a voice — that if they were to speak up, they could be retaliated against, or if they did, it wouldn't be investigated. And for that, I am truly sorry. I am sorry to them. And our company did not live up to its values. And when I started to realize that truth, I took it very personally."

More than his own feelings, however, Maddox focused on the toll that revelations about Steve Wynn's alleged misconduct have taken on Wynn Resorts' employees.

"The media was reporting that the company was likely going to be sold, wouldn't survive," Maddox said. "I was getting many inbounds from large private-equity groups wanting to break the company up. Activist investors were swirling, and it wasn't just our 25,000 people that were worried — it was their families. We had 75,000 people worried about what this future is going to be. What are their futures going to be?"

Maddox did not specifically mention the 5,800 planned jobs at Encore Boston Harbor. And it is worth noting that all of those jobs would not necessarily be lost if Wynn Resorts were stripped of its license. But Maddox's emphasis on Wynn Resorts workers, in general, could have been a way of reminding regulators that many people have stakes in the outcome of this week's hearing.

Earlier Coverage:

Callum Borchers Twitter Reporter
Callum covers the Greater Boston business community for Bostonomix.

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