teve Wynn’s attorneys said the founder of Wynn Resorts can’t be punished with fines by Nevada gambling regulators because he has already left the casino industry and remains willing to stay out.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board is seeking to ban Mr. Wynn, by having his status as a person suitable to hold a casino license revoked, and to order him to pay a fine.
Mr. Wynn’s attorneys said in a motion filed last week to dismiss the case, being heard by the Nevada Gaming Commission, that the board no longer has authority over Mr. Wynn because he resigned from his former company, Wynn Resorts Ltd., and sold all his shares, The Wall Street Journal reports. The filing argued that the only reason regulators continue to pursue the case against him is to levy punitive fines against him. Such a penalty, the filing said, “essentially amounts to an exorbitant ‘exit tax’ to leave Nevada’s gaming industry.”
The decision is up to the Nevada Gaming Commission, which oversees the board. A hearing on Mr. Wynn’s motion to dismiss is scheduled for December 19.
Mr. Wynn resigned as chairman and chief executive of Wynn Resorts in February 2018, after The Wall Street Journal published an article detailing allegations of sexual misconduct by Mr. Wynn toward employees.
In its complaint against Mr. Wynn filed last month, the Gaming Control Board said it found “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.”
The Gaming Commission earlier this year fined Wynn Resorts $20 million after the company admitted to having ignored complaints by employees over many years.
Mr. Wynn is willing to agree to stay out of the casino business, an offer he made to the Gaming Control Board earlier this year, in what the filing called an attempt to avoid the taxpayer expense of a disciplinary hearing.
Allowing these proceedings would amount to “bestowing gaming regulators with perpetual jurisdiction to impose untold fines and other sanctions against anyone who has ever received a gaming approval, no matter how long ago that person ceased any involvement,” the filing said, calling it a “draconian concept of lifetime jurisdiction.”
Separately, Massachusetts state gambling regulators earlier this year allowed Wynn Resorts to keep its license to open a casino in the state but fined the company $35 million after conducting its own investigation into the sexual-misconduct allegations. Massachusetts also fined current Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox $500,000, to be paid personally.
Furthermore, the Nevada Gaming Commission is set to vote this week on new rules that are intended to protect casino workers from sexual harassment.
The regulators declined last year to hold a final vote on rules that would have explicitly tied casinos’ operating licenses to preventing and reporting sexual harassment. The commission didn’t explain its decision not to move forward with those rules, which supporters thought would push the state’s top industry to the forefront of a critical issue nationwide.
This year’s proposal directs licensed gambling companies to adopt broad antidiscrimination and antiharassment policies and requires that workplace harassment by both employees and customers to be addressed. But unlike the previous proposal, the rules under consideration don’t mandate that casinos report regularly on their policies, including how many sexual-harassment lawsuits and settlements they enter each year.