Nevada Regulators Want to Ban Wynn
The Nevada Gaming Control Board has asked the Nevada Gaming Commission to find former Wynn Resorts chairman and CEO Steve Wynn “unsuitable” to hold a license in the state. Citing the many instances of alleged sexual misconduct that drove Wynn out of the company, the board says he “repeatedly violated Nevada’s gaming statutes and regulations” and brought “discredit upon the state of Nevada and its gaming industry”.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board is asking the state’s Gaming Commission to declare Steve Wynn “unsuitable” to hold a gaming license in the state.
The request is contained in a five-count complaint that amplifies numerous accusations that the disgraced former casino tycoon preyed on female employees for sexual favors at the Las Vegas casino hotels that bear his name.
According to the document, “The evidence from the investigation demonstrates a pattern of Mr. Wynn recklessly engaging in sexual conduct with subordinate employees, which even if it was consensual as maintained by Mr. Wynn, is oblivious to the significant power imbalance between the CEO of a major gaming company and subordinate employees dependent on Mr. Wynn’s approval for continued employment.”
The accusations first surfaced in an explosive January 2018 Wall Street Journal story that led to Wynn’s resignation as chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts and the divestiture of his sizable shareholding. It ended with a purge of the executive ranks and the board of directors and a record $20 million state fine against the company for repeatedly failing to respond to complaints from employees about his alleged misconduct.
In Massachusetts, where Wynn Resorts opened a $1.3 billion super-casino this summer, regulators there fined the company $35 million and CEO Matt Maddox $500,000 on similar findings.
The complaint asks the commission to find Wynn “unsuitable to be associated with a gaming enterprise or the gaming industry as a whole,” alleging that he “is not a person of good character, honesty, and/or integrity,” and that he “repeatedly violated Nevada’s gaming statutes and regulations, bringing discredit upon the state of Nevada and its gaming industry.” It adds that his conduct and the media attention that followed “damaged the public’s confidence and trust in an industry that is vitally important to the economy of the state of Nevada and the general welfare of its inhabitants.”
It also asks the commission to fine him on each of the five counts.
If approved, the finding likely would banish the 77-year-old billionaire for life. He would be just the 25th person to be declared “unsuitable” since 1980 and the first in this decade.
Ironically, it will happen in the state where he launched an unparalleled career stretching across half a century and made his reputation as the visionary behind the Mirage, Treasure Island and Bellagio𑁋destinations that would serve as a template for blending luxury cachet with mass-market appeal in ways that contributed to transforming the Las Vegas Strip and helped define the concept of the casino megaresort as it’s known around the world today.
He was also a pioneer in opening up the massive Macau market, which now generates the lion’s share of Wynn Resorts’ gaming revenues and where Wynn was the only non-Chinese bidder to win one of its three casino concessions.
“It certainly is a pretty momentous decision,” David Schwartz, director of UNLV’s Center for Gaming Research, told the Nevada Independent. Wynn, he said, is “really somebody with a huge influence, not just in casinos here but everywhere.”
Wynn has denied the accusations and has largely disappeared from public view. He is believed to be living in Florida, according to news reports. He will have 15 days to respond to the complaint.
Some experts point out that Wynn has never been charged with any criminal offense—all legal proceedings thus far have been civil complaints—and the Nevada Gaming Board has never banished an individual without proof of criminal wrongdoing.
Nonetheless, the board states in its first count that its investigation found evidence “of multiple instances of sexual contact by Mr. Wynn involving subordinate employees. By engaging in this conduct, whether consensual or not, Mr. Wynn disregarded Wynn company’s policies and procedures.”
The second count addresses his abuse of “the inherent disparity of power between himself and the employees with whom he has had sexual relations.”
The third count explicitly addresses a 2005 accusation that Wynn sexually assaulted a Wynn Las Vegas salon manicurist and paid a $7.5 million settlement to the woman and her husband from a secret account that was not disclosed to the company’s board of directors.
The fourth count focuses on a $975,000 settlement with a cocktail server and her parents in 2006.
The fifth count cites Wynn’s failure to attend a hearing last September conducted by investigators to address the accusations of sexual harassment and assault that were piling up against him.
Wynn Resorts, an attorney for Wynn and Gaming Commission Chairman Tony Alamo all declined requests for comment, the Independent said.
The news site said officials with the Republican National Committee (RNC) said they planned to wait until the investigations were complete in Massachusetts and Nevada before deciding whether to return Wynn’s sizable donations, the most recent, amounting to nearly $250,000, coming in May of this year.
Wynn had served as finance chair of the RNC, appointed to the post by Donald Trump shortly after his election. He resigned when the scandal broke.