ynn Resorts is proposing Massachusetts regulators require the company ban its founder from its resorts as a condition of keeping its state casino license.
The company also suggests the Massachusetts Gaming Commission impose other conditions to further distance the company from its namesake, such as prohibiting company executives from having social contact with Steve Wynn.
It’s not clear why Wynn Resorts isn’t pursuing the proposed steps on its own. Company spokespeople didn’t comment Thursday, The Washington Post reports.
The commission is considering the company’s fate after its investigators found executives for years concealed allegations of sexual misconduct against Steve Wynn. He has denied the allegations but resigned as CEO.
The company owns casinos in Nevada and Macau, and Wynn Resorts’ claim to the Eastern Massachusetts casino license is not defined yet, but lawmakers are still counting on the revenue from the company’s Everett casino that’s scheduled to open its doors in June.
House members introduced a $42.69 billion budget on Wednesday with $294 million in expected gaming revenue for the next fiscal year. That includes revenue from Encore Boston Harbor, the Everett casino that’s slated to open on June 23, assuming the opening isn’t affected by Wynn Resorts’ suitability review.
“I think we are looking closely at what happens with Encore. It is assuming that Encore opens at the approximate time,” said Rep. Aaron Michelwitz, D-Boston, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, as reported by Mass Live.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is reviewing whether Wynn Resorts is suitable to keep the casino license after Wall Street Journal article highlighted allegations of sexual misconduct against founder and then-CEO Steve Wynn. An investigatory report released earlier this month states that the company failed to report multiple allegations against Wynn to gaming regulators in Massachusetts and Nevada, but that attorneys representing the company and Wynn made efforts to hide the complaints altogether.
Massachusetts regulators opened the investigation as part of its review whether the company and individual officials violated the conditions for suitability, which include demonstrating good character, honesty and financial stability.
As Massachusetts investigators looked into the company’s response, Wynn Resorts continued with the construction and named it Encore Boston Harbor to distance itself from the Wynn name. The $2.6 billion casino is now accepting reservations and job applications to prepare for the June 23 opening.
At the three-day suitability hearings, gaming commissioners made inquiries to Wynn Resorts officials, including CEO Matt Maddox, on what they knew when and why concerns weren’t reported sooner to regulators. Company officials asked for changes to the sexual harassment policies, training and response to complaints, in the wake of the Steve Wynn allegations. In his closing statement, attorney Jed Nosal described the changes as a transformation from a founder-controlled company to one with “enhanced accountability” at various levels, including at Encore Boston Harbor.
Wynn Resorts is questioning now whether regulators are violating the company’s due process rights and those of the executives and directors. In a post-hearing brief dated Monday, the company argued the commission has “impermissibly shifted the burden to Wynn MA, the Company, and Mr. Maddox to demonstrate why their 2013 suitability” should remain intact rather than investigators “first proving by substantial evidence that the licensee has failed to maintain its suitability by clear and convincing evidence,” CNBC reports.
Last week, the Investigations and Enforcement Bureau declined to make a recommendation to regulators regarding Wynn Resorts’ suitability as a gaming licensee. “Their license cannot simply be put on trial before the Commission without the IEB making such a finding and decision,” the company said in the brief, calling it something “akin to the Commonwealth dragging a defendant into court and, rather than proving his or her guilt without a reasonable doubt, requiring the defendant to prove his or her innocence. ”
Now it is up to the commission to decide whether Wynn Resorts and each of the representatives are suitable. The commission could make a range of decisions following the hearings, ranging from deeming everyone suitable to levying a fine to revoking the license. A decision could come in the next few weeks.
Wynn Resorts faced a similar review by Nevada regulators, who levied a $20 million fine against the casino and let the company retain the license. Nevada Gaming Control Board stated this week CEO Matt Maddox was “found suitable” in Nevada and “remains in good standing.”