Wynn Resorts cut ties with executive to get Boston gaming license

Steve Wynn might not have been the first Wynn Resorts Ltd. executive to cut ties with the casino operator for the sake of a lucrative Boston-area gaming license.

Marc Schorr, once considered Steve Wynn’s right-hand man, might have stepped down as chief operating officer of Wynn Resorts five years ago to preserve the company’s chances to enter Massachusetts.

Wynn Resorts was awarded the license but today is fighting to keep it. The company’s $2.5 billion casino is scheduled to open in Everett, Massachusetts, next June, becoming the company’s fifth resort.

Now Massachusetts regulators are investigating Wynn Resorts after allegations emerged in January that company co-founder and former chairman Steve Wynn sexually harassed employees.

New Wynn CEO Matt Maddox told Massachusetts regulators Friday that the company has taken “rapid and decisive actions” to distance itself from Steve Wynn, who stepped down from all positions in February and sold all his stock in March.

Wynn’s exit has not stopped Massachusetts regulators from investigating the allegations and potentially pulling the company’s license.

The circumstances surrounding Schorr’s departure weren’t known to Massachusetts regulators or to the public at the time — unlike Wynn’s departure.

March testimony

Testimony presented to a Nevada courtroom last month in Elaine Wynn’s case against former husband Steve Wynn and Wynn Resorts over breach of contract indicate Schorr might have taken a bullet for the company’s growth.

Elaine Wynn alleged Schorr was fired over an illegal online gambling scheme that began to emerge in late October 2012.

Lawyers for Steve Wynn argued that the former executive retired upon reaching 65. Attempts to reach Schorr through email and relatives were unsuccessful.

A former employee, who declined to be named because of Wynn Resorts’ size and influence, told the Review-Journal he believed it to be a “forced resignation.”

“It was always unclear to me if it was because of Boston or because of worries about him not being able to be relicensed in Nevada,” the former employee said.

His departure came months after the company had applied for a Massachusetts gaming license.

A Nevada gaming lawyer, who declined to give his name because the sensitivity of the issue, said illegal online betting would have been “a very serious issue” for any state gaming regulators because it could raise questions about money laundering and tax code violations.

What happened

Wynn Resorts announced in March 2013 that Schorr, then 65, would “retire” as COO effective June 1 after 33 years in the industry, much of it alongside Steve Wynn. Schorr would also leave “all other positions held with the company.”’

Schorr also stepped down as president of Wynn MA LLC, the Wynn Resorts subsidiary that was bidding for an official gaming license in Massachusetts.

But nothing had indicated Schorr had plans to retire in the coming years.

In September 2012, he was nominated by the Wynn Resorts board to another three-year term as a director and continued to serve on the Wynn Macau board.

In February 2013, he signed a new employment contract to extend his tenure to December 2016 and increase his base salary to $2.1 million.

Schorr’s fate flipped when a large-scale U.S. federal investigation launched into offshore sports betting in the autumn of 2012. The investigation snagged Schorr’s subordinate, Tim Poster.

Poster, a rising star at the company, admitted to placing bets through offshore books for about two dozen friends. One of them was Schorr, according to court records. Offshore sports betting is illegal in Nevada.

Poster subsequently stepped down as Wynn Las Vegas’ chief operating officer in March 2013, a month after he was promoted to the position.

“Poster informed the company in early 2013” of his betting “and immediately resigned,” Wynn Resorts spokesman Michael Weaver told the Review-Journal.

In a video deposition played in court last month, Schorr said he had no idea that Poster had been placing the bets online as opposed to using the legal sports books around town. Schorr said he found out about the online betting scheme only after Poster’s account was frozen amid the raid.

Boston bid

Wynn Resorts began intensive preparation to seek regulatory approval in Massachusetts in late 2012 just as federal investigators began carrying out their raid on offshore sports betting.

The company submitted its application to Massachusetts regulators and registered Wynn MA LLC on Jan. 17, 2013, with Schorr as president. He was one of three Wynn executives on the registration documents with Matt Maddox and Kim Sinatra.

Wynn board members and top executives, including Schorr, would face tough background checks by the Massachusetts state regulators later in 2013 as part of the bidding process.

In fact, Wynn Resorts pushed co-founder Kazuo Okada off the board in February 2013 amid concern the Japanese businessman’s reputation could hurt the company’s Massachusetts bid. Okada had refused company requests to resign.

“Mr. Okada’s conduct poses a present threat to the company’s reputation for probity, which is fundamental to preserving its current gaming licenses, applying for and receiving additional gaming licenses including jurisdictions where the company has recently filed applications,” Wynn Resorts said in a January 2013 SEC filing.

Tough standards

Massachusetts showed itself during the 2013 application process to be one of the toughest jurisdictions in the U.S. to qualify for a gaming license.

Caesars Entertainment Corp., which was licensed in more jurisdictions than any other gaming company at the time, was dropped by its Massachusetts bidding partner in October 2013 after a critical report by the state’s gaming investigators.

The Massachusetts investigators were concerned about one of the owners of Gansevoort Hotel Group, which had recently signed an agreement with Caesars to open a boutique hotel on the Strip.

Caesars complained at the time that Massachusetts’ standards for suitability were “unreasonable.”


Upon learning that Schorr could be involved with online gambling, Wynn Resorts carried out an investigation of his home and work computer, according to last month’s court hearing.

The company found no evidence that Schorr was personally wagering online, according to court testimony and documents.

Elaine Wynn’s lawyer Mark Ferrario nonetheless contends that Schorr was fired after a “blowup” with Steve Wynn over the sports betting issue.

Schorr stepped down as president of Wynn MA on April 23, 2013, about six weeks before his departure from Wynn Resorts, according to Massachusetts Gaming Commission records.

He was not among the dozen Wynn executives and directors who were reviewed for suitability by the state’s regulators.

As part of his exit package, Wynn Resorts allowed Schorr to keep 200,000 shares of company stock that had yet to vest at the time of his retirement, according a company filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The shares were worth about $25 million at the time of his retirement announcement.

Wynn Resorts was awarded the Massachusetts gaming license in September 2014.

Massachusetts regulators are expected to make their decision this summer on whether Wynn Resorts can keep its state gaming license.

Contact Todd Prince at tprince@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0386. Follow @toddprincetv on Twitter.

3 Mario Batali restaurants on Las Vegas Strip to close
Days after new sexual misconduct allegations were made against celebrity chef Mario Batali, his company announced Friday that it will close its three Las Vegas restaurants July 27. Employees of Carnevino Italian Steakhouse, B&B Ristorante and Otto Enoteca e Pizzeria, all located in The Venetian and Palazzo resorts, were informed of the decision Friday morning. Bastianich is scheduled to visit the restaurants Friday to speak to employees about the next two months of operation as well as how the company plans to help them transition to new positions.
Las Vegas union members voting to authorize the right to strike
Thousands of Las Vegas union members voting Tuesday morning to authorize the right to strike. A “yes” vote would give the union negotiating committee the power to call a strike anytime after June 1 at the resorts that fail to reach an agreement. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Small businesses struggle to find qualified candidates
A 2018 survey found that over two-thirds of small businesses in Nevada find it somewhat to very difficult to recruit qualified candidates. Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Nevada secretary of state website offers little protection against fraudulent business filings
Property developer Andy Pham tells how control of his business was easily seized by another person using the secretary of state website.
Caesars may be going solo in its marijuana policy
Several Southern Nevada casino companies aren’t following Caesars Entertainment’s lead on marijuana testing.
How much is the Lucky Dragon worth?
Less than a year-and-a-half after it opened, the Lucky Dragon was in bankruptcy.
Gyms and discount stores take over empty retail spaces
Grocery stores used to draw people to shopping centers. But many large retail spaces have been vacant since 2008. Discount stores like goodwill and gyms like EOS Fitness are filling those empty spaces, and helping to draw shoppers back in. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Funding source of Las Vegas stadium for the Raiders is sound, expert says
The stadium is funded in part by $750 million of room taxes, the biggest such tax subsidy ever for a professional sports stadium. Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West and The Lincy Institute at UNLV, says that is a good use of public funds. (Richard Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas needs light rail, expert says
Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West and the Lincy Institute said he is afraid of a "congestion mobility crisis." Las Vegas needs a light rail system, he said, to accommodate the city's growing number of attractions. (Richard Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three takeaways from Wynn Resorts' Earnings Call
Matt Maddox came out swinging in his first earnings conference call as Wynn Resorts chief executive officer, boasting of record Las Vegas quarterly revenues and applicants lining up for work.
Star Wars VR Comes to Las Vegas
Sneak peak at the new "Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire" VR experience at the Grand Canal Shoppes.
Elaine Wynn continues her fight to change Wynn Resorts board
Elaine Wynn, the largest shareholder of Wynn Resorts Ltd., is seeking to kick a friend of her ex-husband Steve Wynn off the company’s board of directors. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zillow is getting into house flipping in Las Vegas
Las Vegas Review-Journal real estate reporter Eli Segall says flipping houses has waned in popularity after the housing bubble burst.
Ellis Island Buys Mt. Charleston Lodge
Ellis Island, which operates a casino, brewery and hotel just off the Strip, purchased the Mt. Charleston Lodge in early April.
Casinos to be penalized for allowing drug-impaired customers to gamble
Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Tony Alamo talks about an amendment making casinos subject to the same disciplinary standards of preventing people to gamble if impaired by drugs as they are for letting them play while intoxicated by alcohol.
Terrible Herbst to open large travel center in Southern Nevada
The 50,000-square-foot commercial travel center will include 96 fuel pumps and the third White Castle restaurant in Southern Nevada. Wade Tyler Millward reports.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Hooters owner talks about room upgrades at his hotel-casino
George Ruff, founder and senior principal of Trinity Hotel Investors L.L.C., owner of Hooters Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, talks about recent room upgrades at the hotel. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Passengers Discuss Allegiant Air
Allegiant Air passengers voice their views on the airline at McCarran International Airport on April 16, 2018. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Longtime Las Vegas attorney John Momot dies at age 74
Criminal defense attorney John Momot, who represented mob figures and even played himself in the movie “Casino,” has died.
Trump Slams Amazon for Not Paying Enough in Taxes
Trump Slams Amazon for Not Paying Enough in Taxes Trump tweeted his concerns about the company on Thursday. This isn't the first time Trump commented on the issues via Twitter. August 2017 December 2017 Amazon did hold back on paying state taxes in 1995, but the company has been routinely collecting state sales taxes since then. In 2016, the company's report from the Securities and Exchange Commission confirmed it paid $412 million in taxes.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
eyecandylab CEO shows augmented reality during NAB
Robin Sho Moser, CEO and co-founder of eyecandylab gives an augmented reality demonstration at his booth during the National Association of Broadcaster Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Trends in access to capital for local black business owners
Denette Braud, owner of Braud’s Funnel Cake Cafe, talks about what owning her own business means to her.
Sir Richard Branson announces purchase of Hard Rock Hotel
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, has acquired the Hard Rock Hotel with partners and plans to turn it into a Virgin-branded property by the end of 2019.
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
Adobe unveils #HackTheBracket application for March Madness
Adobe unveiled their #HackTheBracket application at the Adobe Summit trade show at Sands Expo. People can use data from Adobe Analytics to make their bracket for March Madness. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Adidas Signs Yankees' Star Aaron Judge
Adidas Signs New York Yankees Star Aaron Judge The slugger is set to don a new set of stripes this season after signing with the apparel company. Aaron Judge Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The deal includes branding on his batting gloves and wristbands. Judge, the AL's reigning Rookie of the Year, was previously under contract with Under Armour since 2014. Judge won the American League Rookie of the Year award last season after setting an MLB record for most homers in a rookie season (52).
Esports athletes are sponsored, too
Meet Red Bull-sponsored professional esports player Daryl S. Lewis, better known by his in-game name Snake Eyez. Nicole Raz Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Bettor Investments turned into a bad bet
Bettor Investments formerly operated a Nevada-licensed entity betting operation. The company promised “conservative growth, profits and stability for our investors.” Matt Stuart, who ran the fund, shut it down in late 2016 and never made good on an agreement with shareholders.
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like