State gaming panel to hold hearing on allegations of misconduct against casino mogul Steve Wynn
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission will hold a hearing Wednesday to discuss “serious allegations of misconduct” leveled against casino mogul Steve Wynn, whose gambling palace in Everett is in jeopardy after an explosive Wall Street Journal report outlined accusations that he pressured employees for sex and exposed himself over a period of decades, officials said.
In a brief statement, the commission said the public hearing will be held at 2 p.m. in Boston.
“The Investigations and Enforcement Bureau immediately initiated a review of this matter to assess implications for ongoing suitability, and investigators will provide the five-member Commission with a status update,” said agency spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll in the statement. “The Commission is profoundly aware of the gravity of this matter and will proceed with the appropriate sense of urgency and rigor.”
The statement came shortly after Governor Charlie Baker told WGBH radio that his office wants the agency to “move quickly” on its review.
“Well the state statute that the casino is being built under has a suitability standard in it and the Mass. Gaming Commission is looking into that,” Baker said during his regular appearance on “Boston Public Radio” with Jim Braude and Margery Eagan. “. . . And, obviously, I want to give the Gaming Commission the ability to do the investigation, as we said to them, but we hope they move quickly, and take that suitability standard seriously.”
Baker called the allegations in the Journal article “appalling and disgraceful” but demurred when asked if he felt Wynn should be allowed to open a casino in Massachusetts if the accusations are true.
“Let the Gaming Commission do what they need to do here,” Baker said. “OK? I mean they were set up as an independent entity for a reason, and we should give them the ability to perform their independent duty. But the allegations are serious, they should be taken seriously, and I want — my hope is that they can move very quickly to reach a conclusion with respect to whether or not it meets the suitability test. And I would hope they would do, what we would all expect them to do, if they don’t.”
The commission is not expected to vote Wednesday on whether to revoke Wynn’s license to open the $2.4 billion resort in Everett.
“There is no vote on the agenda anticipated for that day,” Driscoll said in an e-mail. “This is a status update.”
The Journal story, posted on the newspaper’s website, said dozens of people interviewed who have worked for Wynn “told of behavior that cumulatively would amount to a decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Wynn,” including acts of exposing himself and pressuring employees for sex. The story said that in 2005, Wynn forced a manicurist at his Las Vegas casino property into sex and later paid her a $7.5 million settlement.
In a statement to the Journal, Wynn said, “The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous. We find ourselves in a world where people can make allegations, regardless of the truth, and a person is left with the choice of weathering insulting publicity or engaging in multi-year lawsuits. It is deplorable for anyone to find themselves in this situation.”
Wynn blamed his former wife, with whom he has been fighting over restrictions on the sale of her stock in Wynn Resorts.
The Everett casino, called Wynn Boston Harbor, is set to open in 2019.
Under Massachusetts law, character, reputation, and integrity are all elements of “suitability” to hold a casino license. Wynn Resorts and its key officials passed an extensive suitability review before the company won a state casino license in 2014.
A Wynn Resorts spokesman has said the company will be “fully cooperative with any review the commission chooses to undertake.”