Representatives of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission said that the investigation against Wynn Resorts Ltd. is still ongoing and a “priority” for them. According to the authorities, the company’s founder Steve Wynn failed to disclose a $7.5 million settlement he paid a Las Vegas manicurist who he forced to have sex with him in 2005 while applying for a gaming license. The regulator is now revisiting the debate on the company’s license for conducting gambling operations in the state.
Allegations of sexual misconduct prompted the probe into the gambling mogul and his company Wynn Resorts Ltd., which is planning to open a large resort outside Boston. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Wynn paid $7.5 million in a settlement after a female manicurist working in his flagship Wynn Las Vegas had accused him of sexual abuse. The report also says that dozens of people working for the billionaire have reported similar incidents that have taken place over decades, showing a “pattern of sexual misconduct”.
In January, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission confirmed the information about the settlement, adding that Wynn and his company concealed it while pursuing a gaming license in the state. The luxury casino resort Wynn Boston Harbor is now under construction in Everett, Massachusetts and if not revoked, the license, approved in September 2014, would allow its $2.4 billion casino to offer real-money games. Due to the recent events, however, the lucrative casino project is under threat as the gaming regulator is now describing the probe into Wynn and his company as a priority. Massachusetts gaming commissioners said they need to determine whether Mr. Wynn is still “suitable” for a casino operator.
At the beginning of February, Steve Wynn resigned as a Chief Executive Officer at Wynn Resorts claiming the negative publicity around his personal matters affected his business. He has denied the accusations, saying that the idea of him assaulting women was “preposterous”. He did not respond to the other allegations reported in the Wall Street Journal.
Broad Impact on Wynn Resorts and Gambling in Massachusetts
After Wynn resigned as CEO of the company he found, he was replaced by Matt Madox in a move to distance Wynn Resorts from the negative reactions against the gambling mogul. However, shares of Wynn dropped 10 per cent in the wake of the report and are now down to $164.19, which is a drop of 2.6 per cent this year. Meanwhile, similar reviews have been opened into other Wynn resorts in Nevada and Macau.
Should the regulator revokes the license in Massachusetts, this would mean another setback for the Wynn Boston Harbor which is under development. In 2016, the construction was already delayed due to an appeal filed by the City of Somerville related to the permit from the Department of Environmental Protection. Now, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission needs to consider several issues in its ethical review – financial stability and integrity, and according to the 2011 state casino law, “integrity, honesty, good character and reputation of the applicant”. The regulator will also need to determine whether Wynn Resorts board members and executives have protected the former chairman and CEO, leaving out pertinent information while applying for a license.