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Board OKs veteran gaming exec Satre for licensing as Wynn director

Updated August 22, 2019 - 6:54 pm

Saying Wynn Resorts Ltd. is “done with the drama and the turbulence” of 2018 and early 2019, board Chairman Phil Satre was licensed as a corporate director Thursday by the Nevada Gaming Commission.

Before a unanimous vote, commissioners said they were confident that under Satre’s leadership, the company is on course to put accusations of sexual harassment and cover-ups behind it.

“We’ve had a very eventful year for reasons that are quite well-known,” Satre told the commission. “But we are past that now and really focused on building the company based upon the strengths that have been established over very many years.”

The company went into a tailspin in January 2018 when former Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn was accused of harassing female employees at the resort over several decades. He has denied harassing anyone.

Regulators in Nevada and Massachusetts wanted answers about how a $7.5 million settlement payment in 2005 to a woman who said he forced her to have sex with him was not disclosed to them.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission conducted a three-day suitability hearing in April and allowed the company to keep its license weeks before Encore Boston Harbor opened in June.

The Nevada Gaming Commission fined the company $20 million, and Massachusetts fined it and new CEO Matt Maddox $35.5 million. The Massachusetts commission ordered that the company be monitored by a Washington-based law firm and that the company hire a coach for Maddox.

Wynn resigned as chairman and CEO in February 2018 and divested himself from the company in the following months.

“It’s perfect we have a nice new captain at the helm of ship driving it, and I think you’re the right guy for that spot,” Commissioner John Moran Jr. said during Thursday’s hearing.

Reno-based Commissioner Deborah Fuetsch said her confidence in Satre was bolstered by his past Northern Nevada associations.

“I know that you would not affiliate your name or your pristine reputation in an organization unless you knew that it was headed in the right direction,” Fuetsch said. “And, you would be value added to the company and that you wouldn’t come in as a figurehead, but you will actually be an active participant in shaping this company going forward. That’s what means the most for me.”

Satre, a former board member with IGT and Nordstrom and a former chairman and CEO of Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., predecessor to Caesars Entertainment Corp., joined the board in August 2018 as vice chairman and was elevated to chairman earlier this year, replacing D. Boone Wayson.

On Thursday, commissioners asked Satre for an update on the company’s plans. Satre, who was recommended for licensing by the state Gaming Control Board on Aug. 7, said an 18-hole golf course east of Wynn Las Vegas and Encore would reopen in October.

He also noted that the company’s under-construction convention facility in Las Vegas would open in early 2020.

“I think my interaction with the company’s going to have a different cadence,” he said. “It’s going to be more business-as-usual. We’ll have a board meeting the week after next and that will be the first board meeting that occurs post-all of the hearings.”

Satre also commented on the 38 acres the company has purchased across Las Vegas Boulevard from the company’s Strip properties, saying it’s a long-term investment.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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