Steve Wynn and Massachusetts Strike Deal Over Sexual Misconduct

Wynn Resorts Las Vegas

30-second summary:

  • Gambling industry legend Steve Wynn is at the center of a sexual misconduct scandal
  • Since failing to disclose a $7.5m settlement he made to a woman, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission contemplated withdrawing Wynn Resorts’ casino license
  • Wynn sued the commission and Wynn Resorts for releasing confidential information
  • Now an agreement has been struck and the findings of the investigation will shortly be made public

Background to the allegations

Steve Wynn, an icon in the casino industry, embarked on his career during the 1960s in Las Vegas. Throughout his career, he was part of some of the most iconic casinos, such as the Mirage, the Bellagio and Treasure Island. Now 77 years old, he is still the face for Wynn Resorts.

Much of the group’s focus is in Macau. It has two resorts there and is one of only six companies that have a casino license on the island. However, Wynn Resorts is also still pursuing opportunities in the US, such as in Massachusetts. In January 2018, a report in the Wall Street Journal made allegations against Wynn of instances of sexual misconduct consistently over the course of his career.

Shortly after the publication of these allegations, Wynn resigned from the company.

In Massachusetts, Wynn Resorts was in the process of applying for a casino license. However, Steve Wynn failed to disclose a $7.5m (£5.8m) settlement payment he made to a manicurist. This concerned a sexual harassment allegation dating back to 2005 in which the woman became pregnant.

The head of the investigations bureau in the Massachusetts Gaming Commission says they were not told about this settlement payment during the application process.

Massachusetts legalized casinos legal only recently, with three licenses for resort casinos being up for grabs. One of those went to Wynn Resorts. It is in the process of developing a casino on a site in the state, but now risks having its license withdrawn as a result of this scandal.

Many twists

In April 2018, attorneys for Wynn Resorts made a request to the gaming commission. This was to take Steve Wynn’s name off the casino license for the development in Everett, Massachusetts. This is allowable as Wynn no longer has a business interest or financial interest in the company. The commission did then remove his name from the license.

The commission stated: “The commission rejects the characterization by Mr. Wynn’s legal counsel that he is nothing more than an ordinary private citizen of the state of Nevada vis-a-vis Wynn Resorts. There is, however, substantial evidence that the relationship between Mr. Wynn and Wynn Resorts has been terminated in a meaningful way such that Mr. Wynn no longer falls with the definition of qualifier at the conclusion of the upcoming annual shareholders meeting.”

This casino resort will now be called the Encore Boston Harbor Casino rather than the Wynn Boston Harbor Casino.

In November, Steve Wynn decided to sue his ex-company Wynn hotels, as well as the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and its chief investigator. The lawsuit claims that Wynn Resorts handed over attorney-client privilege documents to the commission’s investigation team.

The only reason that Wynn Resorts had these documents was because of a joint defense effort in another past litigation.

Recent developments

It now looks as if Steve Wynn and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission have reached a settlement over Wynn’s lawsuit to stop the release of confidential data to the Gaming Commission during its investigation. An internal vote within the commission gave the go-ahead to commit to this agreement. Wynn will now dismiss the lawsuit. No concrete details of the contents of this agreement have been released.

The commission’s investigation concluded in January. No information on this has been made public yet, as it was waiting for the conclusion of Wynn’s lawsuit.

This means that the commission can now conduct a review of the investigator’s report. There will then be a public hearing on the issue to see if Wynn Resorts will hold onto its casino license.

Wynn Resorts is also facing legal troubles of its own. Some of the shareholders issued a lawsuit that claims the company acted negligently in this matter. As a result, the stock price fell significantly.