Steve Wynn isn’t in the clear with Nevada gaming regulators just yet.
Although the former chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts Ltd. wasn’t singled out for discipline in a state Gaming Control Board complaint issued Monday against Wynn Las Vegas and Wynn Resorts Ltd., there remains a chance he’ll be punished.
“There’s another component here which involves the gentleman in question,” Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Tony Alamo said. “In the articles I’m reading, people think this is it, we’re done. Somehow, that’s been missed.”
The gaming regulator’s 22-page complaint listed 10 counts of violations by Wynn Las Vegas and Wynn Resorts Ltd. for turning a blind eye toward decades of sexual harassment violations. The company has agreed to settle and admitted to most of the allegations in the complaint.
Steve Wynn was not individually cited in the control board’s complaint and has repeatedly denied all allegations against him. But the control board still could file a separate complaint against him.
Alamo told the Review-Journal that the complaint against the company is a first step in the process and that Steve Wynn’s name is still on several licenses and under its regulatory purview.
Efforts to reach Steve Wynn through several of his attorneys were unsuccessful Monday.
Reports that Wynn sexually harassed employees over decades surfaced in January 2018 and prompted the Gaming Control Board’s one-year investigation, which resulted in Monday’s complaint.
Wynn stepped down as CEO in February 2018 and subsequently sold all 12.1 million of his shares in the company. The scandal led to a turnover in Wynn Resorts’ executive offices and board of directors and threatened its ability to open a new resort outside Boston.
After Steve Wynn resigned as chairman and CEO, the control board placed an administrative hold on his licenses, meaning he couldn’t abandon them without permission from the board.
“You can’t surrender it unless the board accepts it,” Alamo said. “Think about it, if that was the case, as soon as somebody got in trouble, they could just surrender their license. They can ask for surrendering, but the board has to grant that. I’m not the board, but I would assume that the board wouldn’t accept a surrender because if they do, the board loses jurisdiction of that licensee. To my knowledge, no surrender has occurred.”
The fine Wynn Resorts will pay has yet to be determined. It is the first time that a fine wasn’t defined in a stipulation of settlement to a complaint.
Alamo said the commission has the latitude to set any fine.
“It’s whatever the commission wants to do, from zero to no guard rails,” he said.
Anthony Cabot, a law professor at UNLV and former gaming attorney in Las Vegas said a fine against the company may not accomplish much, since Wynn Resorts said Monday that any employee who in the regulator’s determination was aware of sexual harassment allegations and did not investigate or report them “is no longer with the company.”
“If the people who are involved in the activities that were complained of aren’t at the company, the fine effectively results in the alleged perpetrators not suffering any consequences directly from the actions,” Cabot said.
A.G. Burnett, who was chairman of the state Gaming Control Board from November 2012 until January 2018, said “the board does have a lot of options at its disposal.”
The Nevada Gaming Commission is expected to consider the settlement agreement between Wynn Resorts and the control board Feb. 28.
“They’re (Wynn Resorts) going to come before us. It’s not a full-blown hearing with cross examination or otherwise,” Alamo said. “The attorney general’s office will give what’s in front of us and explain the complaint and explain the settlement agreement. Then Wynn (Resorts) will have a chance, because I’ve given them the latitude to come in front of us and present whatever they want to talk about.”
The commission will then deliberate on a potential fine.
Personally off the hook in Massachusetts
In May, Wynn successfully convinced the Massachusetts Gaming Commission that he had no controlling interests in the company and was no longer a “qualifier” that could be licensed once he divested himself from the company.
Massachusetts gaming regulators have not yet released the results of its year-long investigation. The process has been delayed by litigation initiated by Steve Wynn. Wynn is
suing the commission, its lead investigator as well as his former company for turning over materials he considers protected attorney-client privileged communications during the course of the investigation. The case is ongoing in Clark County District Court.
The lawsuit has delayed the state from conducting an adjudicatory hearing on the company’s suitability to continue holding a license. Many of the details from the Nevada Gaming Control Board complaint are expected to be a part of the Massachusetts report, which would be released publicly as soon as the hearing begins.
Wynn Resorts plans to open the $2.5 billion Encore Boston Harbor in Everett in June.