Wynn Resorts fined $20m over sex allegations
Nevada gambling authorities levied a record $20 million fine against Wynn Resorts on Tuesday for mishandling sexual misconduct allegations against its former executive, Steve Wynn, issuing a dramatic punishment mere months before the company’s Everett casino is due to open.
The fine comes as the Massachusetts Gaming Commission continues to weigh whether Wynn Resorts should still have a casino license in this state, given the sexual misconduct allegations against Wynn and questions about how the company dealt with such accusations.
Elaine Driscoll, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts commission, declined to comment on the Nevada fine or what it means for the future of the company’s $2.6 billion casino due to open north of Boston in June. Driscoll said the commission plans to meet Thursday, and will discuss ongoing Wynn litigation in executive session.
The Nevada Gaming Commission fined the company for failing to investigate claims of sexual misconduct against Wynn, who founded the company but left it last year. The penalty represented the steepest fine in the state’s history, $14.5 million more than the previous highest, a commission spokesman confirmed, but the settlement allowed Wynn Resorts to keep its gambling license.
‘‘It’s not about one man,’’ Commissioner Philip Pro, a former federal court judge, told the Associated Press. ‘‘It’s about a failure of a corporate culture to effectively govern itself as it should.’’
Wynn Resorts said the Nevada commission’s decision brings to a conclusion the regulatory review in that state “of who in the company was aware of allegations against the company’s founder and former CEO.”
Jennifer Roberts, the associate director for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’s International Center for Gaming Regulation, said it will be up to Massachusetts authorities “to decide how to proceed and what impact the Nevada Gaming Commission decision will have.”
“A big takeaway from this hearing was that the Nevada Gaming Commission recognized that Wynn Resorts had made substantial changes as a company, so this allowed the Nevada Gaming Commission to settle the matter as it applied to the current operations and thus allows the company and industry as a whole to move forward and progress,” Roberts said in an e-mail.
Massachusetts regulators launched an investigation into Wynn Resorts after a Wall Street Journal report in January 2018 that detailed allegations of sexual misconduct against Wynn .
The story reported that dozens of people interviewed “told of behavior that cumulatively would amount to a decade’s long pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Wynn,” including acts of exposing himself and pressuring employees for sex.
Wynn has denied the misconduct allegations. Messages left with one of his attorneys were not immediately returned.
Massachusetts investigators want to know who in the company knew about the allegations and what, if anything, they did about them. The conclusions of the Massachusetts investigation have yet to be made public.
“I anticipate the commissions will soon be able to provide a timeline on that,” said Driscoll of the investigation’s report.
On Tuesday, Attorney General Maura Healey said she is awaiting the investigation’s conclusions, and acknowledged her office could have a role in the ongoing turmoil over the future of the Everett casino.
“I want to see what the report says and I’m going to leave our options open in terms of what should happen next,” she said during an appearance on WGBH’s Boston Public Radio. “I think we’re going to see the report in a very short time and we’ll have a better opportunity to assess there.”
Wynn resigned from the company in early February 2018, then sold his stock in Wynn Resorts and moved out of the villa he had occupied at the Wynn Las Vegas resort on the Vegas strip.
Last April, the company dropped the Wynn name from its resort casino on the Mystic River in Everett, rebranding it as Encore Boston Harbor.
Wynn Resorts declined to comment on the Massachusetts investigation on Tuesday. But in its statement about the decision in Nevada, the company highlighted “remedial” actions it has taken over the past year, including the appointment of new CEO Matt Maddox, electing three women to its board of directors, and ensuring that “any employee who was aware of allegations of sexual assault against Wynn and did not investigate or report it is no longer with the company.”
Last week, the Massachusetts commission authorized its legal counsel to finalize an agreement with Wynn to dismiss a Nevada lawsuit. Specific terms weren’t disclosed, but the commission said the deal would guarantee access to the report its investigators have compiled but have been unable to release.
Mark Arsenault of Globe staff contributed to this report. Material from the Associated Press and State House News Service was used in this report.