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Salaries declined in 2018 for Las Vegas gaming CEOs

Five of six CEOs at Las Vegas’ largest gaming companies saw their pay decline in 2018.

“The fourth quarter was really bad for equity markets across the board,” said Union Gaming analyst John DeCree. “Casino stock prices were hit especially hard.”

Still, chief executives made between $1 million and $24 million last year, according to company filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

DeCree said a number of factors affected the market, including the Federal Reserve commenting on interest rate hikes and tensions in U.S.-China trade relations.

Most of the six CEOs had seen a jump in their compensation in 2017. Macquarie analyst Chad Beynon attributed that to casino stocks rising 75 percent on average that year.

“Most of the compensation comes through restricted stock units or stock warrants that may be priced at lower cost basis levels,” he said via email. “As the stock moves up or the instrument vests, those rewards are available to CEOs.”

Here’s how the CEOs of the largest Las Vegas gaming companies by employment fared in 2018 based on SEC filings:

Sheldon Adelson, Las Vegas Sands Corp.

Las Vegas Sands board Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson made $24 million last year, $2 million less than in 2017 but $11.3 million more than his total compensation in 2016. His base salary remained unchanged from the previous year at $5 million, with a majority of his earnings coming from awards and compensations.

With a median employee salary of $40,611 at Sands, according to SEC filings, the CEO-to-employee pay ratio was 591-to-1. A full-time employee located in Las Vegas with wages and overtime pay was determined to be the median employee.

Adelson has worked as board chairman, CEO and a director of Sands since 1988. He owned 10 percent of the company’s shares as of March 18, but his family owns a controlling stake in the company.

Sands spokesman Ron Reese declined to comment for this story.

Matt Maddox, Wynn Resorts Ltd.

Wynn Resorts’ Matt Maddox took over as CEO in February 2018, after Steve Wynn stepped down amid allegations he sexually harassment employees. Steve Wynn has denied the allegations.

Maddox had served as the company’s president since 2013. He made $17 million last year, down from $24.8 million in 2017 but four times the $4.6 million he made in 2016.

Wynn spokesman Michael Weaver said Maddox’s total compensation in 2018 is closer to $13.4 million when factoring in restricted stock grants.

The SEC noted a slight bump in Maddox’s base salary last year — from $1.5 million to $1.9 million — but stock awards dropped dramatically, from $21 million to $12 million. With Wynn’s median employee making $44,492, the pay ratio to Maddox’s salary was 387-to-1. The company considers a full-time, salaried employee in Las Vegas as the median employee.

Maddox owned about 479,000 shares as of March 11, less than 1 percent.

Mark Frissora, Caesars Entertainment Corp.

Former Caesars President and CEO Mark Frissora made $13.2 million last year, a $10 million cut to his compensation in 2017. On April 16, Caesars announced Tony Rodio as its new CEO.

Frissora was appointed CEO in July 2015. While his salary remained unchanged in 2018 at $2 million, Frissora saw an additional $2 million in his bonus, but an $11.8 million cut to stock awards. In total, 85 percent of Frissora’s earnings were from incentive compensation awards.

The pay ratio between Frissora and his employees was 360-to-1, with the median employee at Caesars making $36,586. The company looked at total cash compensation when comparing pay.

As of April 1, Frissora owned 3.6 million shares, less than 1 percent. Caesars spokesman Richard Broome declined to comment for this story.

Jim Murren, MGM Resorts International

Jim Murren, CEO and board chairman of MGM Resorts International, made $12.8 million last year, slightly below the $14.6 million he received the previous year. His base salary remained unchanged at $2 million.

The median compensation for MGM employees was $36,192 last year, resulting in a pay ratio of 355-to-1. The median employee’s cash compensation included salary, bonus, tips and other cash-based wages.

Murren beneficially owned about 1.4 million shares as of March 7, less than 1 percent total. He has been a director of MGM since 1998 and has been CEO since 2008.

A company spokesman did not provide comment.

Keith Smith, Boyd Gaming Corp.

The earnings of Keith Smith, president and CEO of Boyd Gaming, have remained relatively flat over the past three years. His base salary of $1.3 million has remained unchanged, but other awards and compensation brought his total earnings down from $8.6 million in 2017 to $7.8 million last year.

The median Boyd employee made $24,746 last year, resulting in a CEO-to-employee pay ratio of 315-to-1. Spokesman David Strow said the median employee compensation calculation does not include tips, making it difficult to compare its ratio to other companies.

As of March 1, Smith — who has worked as a director for Boyd since 2005 — owned 1.96 million of the company’s shares, or 1.75 percent.

Frank Fertitta III, Red Rock Resorts

Red Rock Resorts Chairman and CEO Frank Fertitta III’s compensation saw little change last year, moving up to $1.96 million from $1.94 million. His base salary of $1 million has remained the same the past three years.

Fertitta’s stock ownership gives him 86.4 percent combined voting power in the company.

With the median Red Rock employee making $31,047, the pay ratio was 63-to-1, with the company calculating salary, tips, bonus and other taxable compensation.

A company spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0233. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

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