Gaming veteran Phil Satre named to Wynn Resorts board

Longtime Nevada gaming executive Phil Satre will get a chance at doing business in Macau now that he has been named vice chairman of the Wynn Resorts Ltd. board of directors.

Satre will become chairman next year, a move lauded by top shareholder and co-founder Elaine Wynn.

The company announced the appointment of Satre Monday morning. He is the former chairman and CEO of Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., predecessor to Caesars Entertainment Corp.

Satre could not be reached for comment on joining the board, but issued a statement through the company.

“I have admired the innovation and excellence that have become the hallmarks of the Wynn brand,” Satre said in the statement.

Last week, Satre said on the “Nevada Newsmakers” television show in Northern Nevada that his failure to steer Harrah’s toward a concession in the world’s No. 1 casino market was one of his biggest career regrets.

Concerns about Macau

In an interview with show host Sam Shad, Satre said late in his career at Harrah’s he had concerns about Macau’s regulatory environment since his company had the largest number of gaming licenses across the United States that could have been at risk if associates in Macau were deemed unsuitable partners.

At Wynn, Satre will be able to jump into the Macau market where the company generates nearly 75 percent of its revenue.

“The addition of someone of Phil’s caliber and experience is a significant step forward for Wynn Resorts as we turn the page on the last six months,” board chairman D. Boone Wayson said in a statement issued by the company. “Our goal is to give the management team, led by CEO Matt Maddox, an opportunity to grow and develop this company to its greatest potential. Phil’s insight and guidance will be invaluable as we move forward.”

Wayson, a close friend of former chairman and CEO Steve Wynn, said he would step down as chairman but keep his position on the board next year allowing Satre to be elevated to chairman.

The move also was welcomed by Elaine Wynn, who said she has “long respected Phil as a leader in the gaming industry.”

Satre will be “key to furthering the Wynn Resorts brand as one of the premier destination resort operators in the world,” she said in a statement.

Satre is president of the National Center for Responsible Gaming and served in various leadership roles in the gaming industry for more than 25 years.

He also was chairman of the board of International Game Technology PLC — a position from which he stepped down Monday — Nordstrom Inc., and NV Energy Inc., and has served as director of Tabcorp Holdings Ltd. and Rite Aid Corporation. He also chairs No on 3, a group opposing Nevada’s energy choice initiative that will be on the November general election ballot.

Satre has received numerous accolades, including election to the American Gaming Association’s Hall of Fame and UNLV’s Business Hall of Fame.

A turbulent six months

Steve Wynn resigned in February after being accused of sexual assault and harassment by women employees over several decades. Wynn, who vehemently denies assaulting or harassing any employee, has since sold all of his company stock shares. 

He and the company are under investigation by gaming regulators in Nevada, Macau and Massachusetts — where the $2.4 billion Encore Boston Harbor is scheduled to open in less than a year.

Executive vice president Kim Sinatra, the company’s top lawyer and considered second in command behind Maddox, left the company in July and was replaced by Las Vegas gaming attorney Ellen Whittemore.

The company’s board was criticized for its lack of representation by women, prompting the company to add three new women members in April.

Former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers, three-time CEO and Baja Corporation founder Barbara Atkins and Kestrel Advisors CEO Winifred “Wendy” Webb were named to the board, joining former Southern Nevada Water Authority general manager Pat Mulroy.

Wynn shares closed up $3.76, 2.5 percent, to $152.95 a share on Monday on average volume. The Nasdaq issue dipped 15 cents to $152.80 a share in afterhours trading.

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

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