Nevada gaming regulators are moving to have Steve Wynn, founder and former CEO of Wynn Resorts and accused of committing serial sexual misconduct against his employees, formally declared unsuitable to hold a state gaming license.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board lodged a 23-page complaint on Monday alleging Wynn “is not a person of good character, honesty, and/or integrity” who is “unsuitable to be associated with a gaming enterprise or the gaming industry as a whole.” The complaint cites numerous allegations that Wynn sexually harassed employees who were dependent on him for their livelihood and covered it up through confidential, sometimes multimillion-dollar settlements, according to The Nevada Independent.
“Mr. Wynn has repeatedly violated Nevada’s gaming statutes and regulations, bringing discredit upon the state of Nevada and its gaming industry,” the complaint says, adding that the 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.”
The Nevada Gaming Control Board is also asking the Nevada Gaming Commission to impose a monetary fine on Wynn for each of the five counts laid out in the complaint, including his refusal to appear in person at an investigatory hearing that was scheduled in September. In Nevada’s two-tier casino regulation system, the commission has “full and absolute power” to revoke any finding that a person is suitable to hold a casino license in the state.
The complaint notes that Wynn did not show up to an investigative hearing that the regulatory board held last September to probe the allegations. State law gives both the Gaming Control Board and Gaming Commission the power to issue subpoenas and to “compel the attendance of witnesses.”
According to the complaint, Wynn’s attorneys said that he would not appear in person for the hearing, stating that he was no longer a “bona-fide licensee” and that because he had hired attorneys to pursue defamation lawsuits related to the unwelcome sexual conduct claims, Wynn “cannot be reasonably expected to waive any of his privileges except at the appropriate time and in the appropriate judicial forum.”
In its complaint, the board wrote that Wynn’s refusal to appear at the September hearing “hindered” the board’s ability to perform its duty and deprived them of “material information and testimony required to conduct a thorough and complete investigation.”
Although he strenuously denied the allegations at the time, Wynn left his post as chairman and CEO of the company that bears his name in February 2018, and Wynn Resorts was assessed a $20 million fine — a state record — for failing to properly investigate the harassment.
The complaint describes the findings of the board’s own, seven-month probe into Wynn’s behavior, concluding that Wynn’s conduct “was not consistent with good character and poses a threat to the public interest of the State of Nevada.”
“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 complaint said.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission launched its own investigation into the company — which planned to open a casino in Everett, Massachusetts — and fined Wynn Resorts $35 million in April 2019. As a condition of keeping its state casino license, Wynn Resorts had suggested Steve Wynn be banned from all its properties and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission impose other requirements to further distance the firm from its namesake.
In September, nine women who work at Wynn Resorts as manicurists and makeup artists filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging sexual harassment by Wynn and retaliation against them after the story was published by the Wall Street Journal in 2018.