Matt Maddox has been no stranger to the Everett casino, and above anyone else, the new CEO of Wynn Resorts – which includes Wynn Boston Harbor – is probably the one person most responsible for bringing the $2.4 billion resort casino across the Mystic River to Everett.
It was Maddox, who last month became the CEO in the wake of the sexual misconduct allegations against former, charismatic CEO Steve Wynn, who happened to see a small news clipping in his e-mail talking about a potential casino site being touted to Hard Rock Casino developers in Everett.
Fresh off a humbling casino-proposal loss in Foxborough, the Wynn organization had pulled out of Massachusetts. As the story is told, though, Maddox hadn’t removed the Boston news alerts from his computer.
So it was he saw that little story about Everett that piqued his interest about another run at a Boston casino.
A phone call to Steve Tocco of Mintz Levin, and then a few phone calls around Everett, and shortly after that, Maddox was taking a walking tour of the site, which he was very excited about. Soon after that, Steve Wynn and Maddox were sitting in Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria’s office at Everett City Hall.
The rest, of course, is history.
Maddox has rarely told that story, but it’s one that has become more appropriate for the Wynn Boston Harbor venture as Maddox, 42, has now taken charge of the Wynn company.
According to a biography provided by Wynn, Maddox grew up in a very small town in Arkansas with a population of just over 5,000 people. With a keen interest in investment banking since he was a small child in Arkansas, Maddox pursued that career early in life and worked for Bank of America and, later, for the predecessor of Caesar’s Entertainment.
That job caught the eye of the Wynn team, who formed Wynn Resorts in 2002 and made Maddox one of their first hires. He served as treasurer and vice president of investor relations when he came to Wynn, with one of his first tasks being to secure the financing for the Wynn Las Vegas project.
However, his claim to fame with the company was forging a path in Macau to secure a casino property there – a property that has become a major revenue source for the company.
“Maddox was among the first of the Wynn executive team to relocate to China in 2003, becoming the Chief Financial Officer of Wynn Resorts Macau,” read the company bio. “During his three years in Asia, he was a key leader on the pre-opening team that built the organization from ground breaking through the resort opening in 2006. The resulting Wynn Macau has proven to be one of the most successful integrated resorts ever created, and remains the only resort in the world with eight Forbes Five Star awards. In 2005, Mr. Maddox was named senior vice president of Business Development for Wynn Las Vegas, and later for Wynn Resorts.”
In 2013, after being promoted to president and chief financial officer, he focused on China once again and led the financing for the $4.2 billion Wynn Palace in Cotai. That hotel has also won awards from Forbes and has more than 1,000 rooms.
Last month, during the scandal that rocked the Wynn empire, Maddox assumed the duties of CEO of the company from Steve Wynn, who resigned his position. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) continues an investigation into the suitability of the company, as well as who knew about settlements and payments made by Steve Wynn for alleged sexual misconduct in 2005.
Maddox told The Boston Globe in a recent interview that he did not know about the settlement allegations during the vetting process in Massachusetts, and said the company has an investigation going on right now that is looking into who knew what and when.
Maddox has not been available to local reporters, but in an interview with the Globe, he affirmed his support for Wynn Boston Harbor, and also said that the Wynn company is more than one person.
“Wynn is not about one person, it’s not about management, it’s about the 25,000 people that work here,” he told employees recently during a meeting following the fallout, according to Wynn.
He told the Globe that they are still committed to the Boston project fully, and have no intentions to sell it off to another developer.
“Absolutely,” he told the Globe. “We have spent $1.3 billion out of $2.4 billion [budgeted for Everett]. There are between 1,200 and 1,400 construction workers on site every day. I’m telling you, this is going to be the nicest integrated resort in the Northeast. It will have the biggest ballroom in the Northeast, 671 hotel rooms, 13 food and beverage outlets. It’s full steam ahead.”
Another hot topic has been the name of the property. While many believe that the Wynn brand name is now tainted beyond repair, Maddox told the Globe emotions are too raw right now to make that kind of game-changing decision.
“Emotions are so raw right now around this topic,” he told the Globe. “What I’m telling people is you don’t look at those things right now in this state. Because Wynn is a brand — it’s not about a person, it’s about the 25,000 people that work here. Our Chinese customers — we had one of our biggest Chinese New Year’s ever last week — they understand the Wynn brand. They don’t associate it with a person; they associate it with luxury and with service and with first class.”
Finally, he told the Globe that the Everett casino will still have the luxury cache that all Wynn properties have, even without the personal touch of Steve Wynn.
He told the Globe that Roger Thomas has been the company’s chief designer for several years, and Steve Wynn had not been involved at the detail level for some time. The last two casino openings, Maddox said, have been handled chiefly by Thomas.
“Roger is the author and Steve was always the editor,” Maddox told the Globe. “Steve had very clear ideas about how he wanted to do things. But Roger is the person — along with his quite large team — who specifies where we get the granite. Steve Wynn — he is a visionary. It is a fact. You can look up and down Las Vegas. But we have people who have worked on all these projects, in the design, conception, and execution, for over 30 years. There are no better-trained people in the world to execute new projects. We’re the ones who have done it.”
Maddox is expected to travel to Everett to take a tour of the resort casino project in the next month or so.