Wynn Probes by Massachusetts, Nevada, Nearing Close
Investigations of Wynn Resorts Ltd. and its former CEO by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s investigative team and gaming investigators in Nevada are nearing their completion, with the Bay State team likely to issue their report first.
Both probes began in February, scant weeks after the Wall Street Journal first published its expose of Steve Wynn and his history of alleged sexual harassment over several decades, including what had remained hidden until then: a $7 million hush payment to a massage therapist who claimed the gaming mogul had tried to rape her.
While those allegations led to Wynn’s rapid defenestration as CEO from the company that still bears his name, followed by his divestiture of all stocks, the investigations were just ramping up.
During the intervening months Wynn has vigorously denied all sexual wrongdoing while the company’s new CEO insists it is operating under a new corporate culture after several holdovers from the old regime were forced out.
The new regime has cooperated with both investigations while conducting its own internal investigation—which it has shared with Nevada and Massachusetts regulators.
Much is at stake for the company in Massachusetts, where it is building the $2.5 billion Encore Boston Harbor in Everett along the Mystic River, across from the Boston skyline. The license that would be required when the work is completed next June could be withheld by the MGC.
The question of whether the Massachusetts or Nevada teams will finish their probes first appears to turn on several factors. On the one hand, because it has operated in that state for many decades, Nevada investigators have far more witnesses to interview. On the other hand, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission just lost its chairman, Stephen Crosby, who resigned recently under criticism that he had already made up his mind about the culpability of Wynn. Governor Charlie Baker hasn’t yet appointed a successor, although an interim chairman, Gayle Cameron has been approved.
Also a factor is that the states have much different gaming regulations. Massachusetts’ is nearly brand new, while Nevada’s is weighty and old.
The MGC is seen as releasing the investigators’ report, taking testimony from witnesses, including members of the corporation, and hearing the views of the public. That could take several days, according to a spokesman. Then the commission would retire to a closed door session to make its decision.
Nevada operates under a two tiered regulatory system. The three-member Gaming Control Board will consider information presented to it and then determine if regulations were violated and if disciplinary action should be recommended. The five-member Nevada Gaming Commission will be the judge and determine the outcome of any complaint. Although the report will be confidential, the facts will be discussed in a publicly available document.
Another important difference: In Massachusetts Steve Wynn has been removed as a “qualifier” from the casino license. In Nevada an administrative hold has been placed on him, so that he still effectively holds the license pending the outcome of the investigation.