LAS VEGAS (AP) — The new CEO of Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts said he was not aware of any of the sexual misconduct accusations against casino mogul Steve Wynn before they surfaced last month.
Matt Maddox, who was appointed CEO on Feb. 6 after Wynn resigned, said in an interview Monday that people should "hold off making any judgment until the investigations into the accusations are complete."
Wynn Resorts is facing scrutiny by gambling regulators in Nevada and Massachusetts, where the company is building a roughly $2.4 billion casino just outside Boston. Regulators in Macau, the Chinese enclave where the company operates two casinos, also are inquiring about the accusations.
Wynn has vehemently denied the misconduct accusations and attributed them to a campaign led by his ex-wife. An attorney for Elaine Wynn has denied that she instigated a report in the Wall Street Journal detailing the allegations.
The newspaper reported last month that a number of women said Steve Wynn harassed or assaulted them and that one case led to a $7.5 million settlement.
Wynn Resorts has created a committee to investigate the allegations and review the company's internal policies and procedures to ensure a "safe and respectful workplace for all employees."
Maddox, who does not sit on the board of directors, said he would leave it up to lawyers and investigators to decide whether the findings of the investigation should be made public.
Many describe Wynn as the father of modern-day Las Vegas, and by the company's own admission, his knowledge was crucial for its success. So much so, the company recently told regulators that the "business may be significantly impaired" if it lost Wynn's services.
But Maddox said Wynn Resorts is positioned to move forward without its founder and develop a number of projects in part because two longtime executives responsible for design and architecture remain with the company. He also is putting together an "innovation advisory team" to provide input.
"The idea is that our future projects are going to continue to be leading in innovation and creativity," Maddox told The Associated Press at the employee dining hall of the Wynn Las Vegas casino-resort. "We are continuing to move forward as fast as we can."
The company closed its golf course in Las Vegas last year as a step toward the development of a lake and hotel project called Paradise Park. Last month, it bought a 38-acre site along the Las Vegas Strip that Wynn, before resigning, said would be developed into a roughly 2,000-room hotel.
Maddox said the company will pursue both projects and the possibility of obtaining a license for a casino in Japan, where lawmakers approved a long-awaited law late last year on "integrated resorts," the first major hurdle in allowing casinos to open. Further legislation is expected to take several more years.
Maddox, 42, is one of Wynn Resorts' first employees. He joined the company when Wynn founded it in 2002, two years after the mogul sold the business that built the Bellagio, Mirage and Treasure Island resorts.
Initially, he spent the majority of his time raising the money to build the Wynn Las Vegas casino-resort. He later worked in Macau before returning to Sin City in 2006. He led the company through the Great Recession as the chief financial officer and became its president in 2013.
Maddox said the company's board of directors had been developing a succession plan for roughly four years, and Wynn's resignation simply accelerated its implementation.
"They, along with Steve, decided to make me the president of Wynn Resorts with the idea that eventually, assuming things continue to work well, I would become the CEO," he said.
He said the company will keep its name and logo, which is Wynn's signature.
"Wynn is about the 25,000 people who work here," he said. "The name stands for quality. It stands for service. And it's something that all of these 25,000 people look up to."
Maddox defended the company as gender inclusive, citing that 40 percent of management are women, but wants the number to increase. He has established a new leadership initiative with an immediate goal of looking at gender inequality and instituted a six-week paid parental leave policy and merit-based scholarship fund.
"I'm going around in the town halls explaining not only is the company stable, it's strong. So, all of you are safe," he said. "We are going to keep executing what we do. And I'm pointing out at each town hall that this is a zero-tolerance company."
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