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John L On Elaine Wynn's Stock Options And Steve Wynn's Legacy


(Photo by Stephen Chernin/Invision/AP, File)

In this Dec. 4, 2014 file photo, Elaine Wynn attends Bloomberg Businessweek's 85th Anniversary celebration at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Elaine Wynn owns 9 percent of Wynn Resorts. But she never had voting control over those stocks. A nasty, years-long litigation between Elaine and her ex-husband - casino mogul Steve Wynn – over control of those stocks ended quietly on Friday.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Steve Wynn announced he was giving up the fight after resigning as chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts. This follows two weeks of turmoil in the wake of a Wall Street Journal article that raised allegations of sexual harassment against the gaming industry titan.

“To see that come to a quiet end is really surprising given all the warring that has taken place in court," contributor John L. Smith said, “There's no question that she has prevailed on that issue.”

Another lawsuit filed last week by the Las Vegas-based law firm Eglet Prince on behalf of a group of shareholders could cause more trouble for Steve Wynn, Smith said.

The lawsuit questions Wynn Resorts board of directors and what they knew about the allegations against Steve Wynn and when they knew it. 

Most of Wynn Resort stock is held by institutional investors, Smith said. Wynn Resorts has been a healthy investment and the image Steve Wynn presented to the public is part of that.

“You’re talking about a guy who – at least at one level – inspired a lot of confidence and that’s probably the greatest change that has occurred here is that this company no longer has that person who has public credibility and can inspire that confidence,” Smith said.

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For Smith - who wrote a book about Steve Wynn back in the 90s - the harassment issue is only part of the story of a complicated man. His legacy as a man who cared about details, and who clowned around with the likes of Frank Sinatra, has changed Vegas forever starting with the Golden Nugget downtown.

Steve Wynn improved the food, the service, the cleanliness, the facade, the room quality - really everything about the property was improved under Steve Wynn's leadership. 

That was just the beginning. 

“He took that idea and made it blossom at a high, high level with a $630 million Mirage, which opened in 1989,” Smith said. 

Some people are wondering what will happen to the Wynn name in the future and whether it will it stay on the hotel?  

“I don’t make as much of that as a lot of the Wall Street analysts are. I come from a town where Binion had the Horseshoe," Smith said. 


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John L. Smith, contributor

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