Wynn Scandal Leads to New Regulations in Nevada
Two years after Steve Wynn (l.) resigned as CEO of Wynn Resorts, a new regulation will go into effect March 1 in Nevada that was directly inspired by the sexual-harassment scandal. The regulation was imposed by the Nevada Gaming Commission.
The sexual harassment scandal that caused Steve Wynn’s downfall has inspired a new gaming regulation that went into effect March 1 in Nevada.
The regulation imposed by the Nevada Gaming Commission in November came about as a direct result of allegations that came to light two years ago in an investigative piece about Wynn published in the Wall Street Journal. The piece detailed years of alleged sexual harassment by Wynn, including a $7.5 million payment he made to a massage therapist who claimed he raped her and made her pregnant.
Wynn resigned as CEO of the company he founded, Wynn Resorts Ltd., and divested himself of any shares or connection to the company. But his legacy lives on in the new regulation. It requires any license gaming operator with more than 15 employees to “adopt and implement written policies and procedures prohibiting workplace discrimination or harassment of a person based on the person’s race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, or national origin, including, without limitation, sexual harassment.”
One criticism of the new rule is that it’s redundant, and that such policies are required by other state and federal agencies. But the Gaming Control Board and the commission apparently felt that the “and-we-really-mean-it” regulation was called for after the Wynn allegations surfaced and after the company he founded paid fines of $35.5 million in Massachusetts and $20 million in Nevada for violating existing rules.
On the other hand, smaller companies may not have had such policies in place, and will be required to do so by the new regulation.
According to Gaming Control Board Chairwoman Sandra Douglass Morgan, the board’s Tax and License Division “will confirm each applicable licensee’s compliance” with the new regulation. “Additionally, the compliance unit of the board’s Investigations Division will continue to monitor the compliance committees of such gaming licensees and evaluate whether their respective compliance plans adequately address the necessary policies and procedures required by Regulation 5.250.”
According to experts on employment and labor law, the new regulation may encourage companies to look at those policies and make sure they’re in compliance.
The new regulation does have teeth. Companies that don’t have the policies can be fined. They are also required to explain how they will enforce those policies and to describe the process that someone making a complaint would have to go through.
Wynn is no longer involved in gaming in any way, and no longer lives in the state. But, in reaction to a complaint filed by the Control Board, the Gaming Commission said in December that it has the authority to reach out to him and judge his suitability to hold a gaming license.
Wynn’s attorney has said he will appeal, since Wynn has left the industry and so no longer holds a license for the commission to judge him on.