Shares of gaming giant Wynn Resorts, Limited (NASDAQ:WYNN) jumped as much as 10.3% in trading today after the founder, CEO, and chairman Steve Wynn stepped down late last night. By 3 p.m. EST shares had settled down slightly, but traders were still cheering the move with shares trading 7.1% higher on the day.
Late last month, the Wall Street Journal reported on sexual misconduct allegations against Steve Wynn over the course of at least two decades. He called the allegations "preposterous" at the time, but pressure mounted on Wynn Resorts to push Steve Wynn out.
Last night, the company announced that Steve Wynn had given his resignation and the board of directors accepted "with a collective heavy heart." It's likely that regulators played some role in the resignation, especially considering that Massachusetts regulators said they would open an investigation into the allegations. They didn't need Steve Wynn overshadowing the opening of Wynn Boston Harbor in the middle of next year.
President Matt Maddox, who was Steve Wynn's right-hand man, will take over as CEO.
When the market celebrates your exit, it probably means it was time to go. Steve Wynn had become the story, more than Wynn Resorts; if he had stayed we might have seen customers avoid the company's properties under public pressure.
We don't know if Steve Wynn will be able to keep his stake in the company, which would mean he'd need to keep a gaming license, but in the next few weeks we'll get details of arrangements surrounding his departure. It's the end of an era in Las Vegas, but that didn't stop the market from cheering Steve Wynn's resignation today.