Bay State’s Wynn Probe Comes to Vegas
Though reported to be in the final phase of its investigation of Steve Wynn and Wynn Resorts, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission said it needs more time to complete its work.
“Our investigators are balancing a sense of urgency with an uncompromising commitment to diligence and thoroughness,” Executive Director Ed Bedrosian said last week as members of the agency traveled to Las Vegas to gather additional information.
Wynn, the casino tycoon who founded Wynn Resorts, resigned as chairman and CEO of the company after The Wall Street Journal in January publicized detailed testimony from several women formerly employed by the company accusing the billionaire of preying on them for sexual favors. The Gaming Commission got involved after it was revealed that Wynn had not disclosed a $7.5 million settlement with one of his alleged victims in his 2013 licensing suitability hearings in the state.
Wynn, who has denied all the allegations, severed his ties with Wynn Resorts in the weeks after the bombshell Journal report, including selling the entirety of his shareholding. Nonetheless, the company’s license to develop and own a $2 billion resort casino outside Boston, which is slated to open next year, could hang in the balance of the commission’s findings.
Last month, commission Chairman Stephen Crosby said he expected the investigation to wrap up in September and be discussed in a public meeting before deliberations on potential penalties against Wynn and the company in a closed session.
Bedrosian has not contradicted that, but said last week that “comprehensive fact-finding and analysis must take precedence. As a result, investigators do need some additional time to complete their work.”
The commission is next scheduled to meet on Thursday.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board is conducting a separate investigation, the findings of which will be disclosed after Massachusetts, according to Chairwoman Becky Harris.
Wynn Resorts’ board of directors has concluded an investigation of its own but has not disclosed its findings.
In a related action, a Nevada District Court judge has denied a request by a former Wynn Las Vegas salon director to dismiss a defamation suit filed against him by Steve Wynn.
Wynn accuses Jorgen Nielsen, whose testimony figured prominently in the Journal report, of lying to the newspaper and to ABC News in an attempt to smear him. The Journal quoted Nielsen as saying that “everyone was petrified” of Wynn when he was on his way to the salon. He told ABC that “we would hide people” from Wynn and pretend that some employees were busy when he was seeking an appointment.
Wynn’s suit, filed in April, decries Nielsen as a “disgruntled” former employee.
Nielsen’s attorney said the lawsuit was intended to intimidate into silence current or former employees that may seek to come forward with accusations of sexual harassment.
The court, however, ruled that the defendant failed to provide sufficient evidence to warrant throwing the case out.
The two sides will now begin the process of gathering evidence, which could take as long as six months, after which a trial could be scheduled.