The top casino stories of 2018

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STEVE WYNN FALLS FROM GRACE
Wynn Resorts started 2018 on the right foot, reporting its 2017 revenue rising 41% and the company’s chairman and CEO Steve Wynn predicted great things were in store for the casino empire he founded way back in 2002.

Two days later, Steve was vehemently denying a blockbuster Wall Street Journal report in which multiple female Wynn staffers accused him of sexual harassment dating back decades. The company’s shares promptly shed one-fifth of their value and gaming regulators in Nevada and Massachusetts launched probes that could imperil the company’s future operations.

Less than two weeks after the allegations were published, Steve had resigned from the company he founded, and he sold off his considerable holdings in the company the following month. To do so, he had to end a pair of six-year legal fights: the first with his ex-wife Elaine and the second with former Universal Entertainment chairman Kazuo Okada, the importance of both having drastically diminished in light of his new predicament.

Meanwhile, his company expunged his name from the in-development $2.4b Boston casino project, the future of which hangs on the findings of a Massachusetts Gaming Commission report. Wynn shares were worth over $200 the day before the WSJ report, but they’re currently trading at less than half that price. America’s trade war with China and uncertainty over Macau concession renewals have accelerated this decline but it all started with Steve’s spectacular fall from grace.

Steve founded Wynn Resorts following the sale of his Mirage Resorts to MGM but it seems unlikely that his storied casino career will have a third act. Steve’s ignominious exit from the stage represents a sad legacy for a man whose influence over the casino industry’s development can’t be denied.

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