American casino operator Wynn Resorts Limited has announced that Stephen Cootey will be stepping down as its Chief Financial Officer at the end of the month to be replaced by former banker and gaming machine manufacturing executive Craig Billings.
Wynn Resorts Limited, which operates casinos in Macau and the United States including the Wynn Macau and the Wynn Las Vegas and hopes to inaugurate its $2.1 billion Wynn Boston Harbor development by June of 2019, explained that Cootey is leaving in order to “pursue other interests” and that his departure after less than three years in the role was “not a result of any disagreement with the company relating to its operations, policies or practices”.
In his short time with Wynn Resorts Limited, Cootey helped the company to prepare for the recent launch of its $4.4 billion Wynn Palace Cotai development while he moreover oversaw the financial fallout resulting from the alleged fraudulent activities undertaken by junket operator Dore Entertainment Company Limited at the Wynn Macau venue.
“Steve Cootey was a known quantity in the gaming industry, having come from Las Vegas Sands [Corporation] prior to his time at Wynn Resorts [Limited],” read a note from Buckingham Research Group Incorporated analyst Christopher Jones. “Given the breadth of experience, we are sorry to see Cootey leave. We would characterize the move as not entirely surprising, though disappointing, being as surprise transitions in the chief financial officer role are typically viewed by investors with skepticism.”
For his part, 44-year-old Billings is currently a director at Las Vegas-based digital games provider NYX Gaming Group Limited but served as Chief Digital Officer and Strategy And Business Development Managing Director for Australian slots innovator Aristocrat Leisure Limited for 40 months beginning in July of 2012. Before this, he spent 19 months at International Game Technology where he was responsible for strategic planning and divestitures and also has experience in raising money and restructuring as a member of the investment banking division at Goldman Sachs.
“Billings is a highly respected veteran of both the gaming and banking industries and brings extensive experience in business innovation to the company,” read a statement from Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts Limited. “[He] has been a key executive in the gaming industry specializing in digital innovation, mergers and acquisitions and capital structure management.”
According to a Wynn Resorts Limited filing with the United States Securities And Exchange Commission, Billings will now earn a base annual salary of $750,000 although this will rise to $800,000 from the first day of September. He is additionally due to receive 30,000 shares of restricted company stock currently valued at around $2.81 million but set to vest 20% per year over five years.
“Billings has been a fixture in the gaming industry for some time with his most visible role in the United States being at International Game Technology prior to its sale to GTech,” read the investors note from Jones. “As a result, [Billings] is no stranger to the broader gaming industry though less so to the integrated resort model. It is important to remember that Wynn Resorts Limited’s President, Matt Maddox, is also a former Chief Financial Officer for Wynn Resorts Limited, [and is] well positioned to provide support as [Billings] gets up to speed in his new role.”