Don’t expect fireworks as Nevada gaming regulators seek to declare Steve Wynn ‘unsuitable’ By Howard Stutz, Executive Editor, CDC Gaming Reports October 22, 2019 at 6:30 pm Almost assuredly, the Nevada Gaming Commission will soon hold a public hearing on the five-count complaint against Steve Wynn, in which the Gaming Control Board seeks to have one of the casino industry’s most iconic figures be formally declared unsuitable to ever again hold a state gaming license. Nevada law requires the hearing. It’s doubtful, however, that the 77-year-old Wynn, who was accused of subjecting female employees to years of unwelcome sexual harassment and sexual assault, will appear on his own behalf. He’s long denied the charges, he departed and divested himself from Wynn Resorts more than a year ago, and, depending on what “insider” report you’re reading, he’s either an art dealer in Florida or still residing in the Las Vegas area. Neither Wynn nor his attorneys have commented since the complaint was lodged. After being served, he has 20 days under state law to answer the complaint, and, even if his answer is “here’s my gaming license, good-bye,” the commission still has to hold a hearing to accept the result. Like everyone else involved in the matter, Gaming Commission Chairman Tony Alamo Jr. declined comment. We’re in uncharted waters. Between 1980 and 2016, the Gaming Commission has ruled on 135 individuals and companies who were either denied a gaming license, had their license revoked or were otherwise deemed unsuitable. Among the 24 found unsuitable was Japanese high-roller Ken Mizuno in 1994, who reportedly had ties to the Yakuza criminal organization, and John Frederick Pradella in 1985, who faced a federal indictment for illegal sports bookmaking in Las Vegas and Atlantic City and had alleged ties to the Genovese crime family. Aladdin Hotel owner Ginji Yasuda was denied an extension to his gaming license in 1989 when he was caught up in a bad loan deal. The owners of slot machine route operator American Coin saw their gaming licenses revoked in 1990 after the company’s games were found to have cheating devices to prevent players from winning jackpots. None on the list rises to the prominence, however, of Steve Wynn, whose imprint is on some of the most significant resorts in Las Vegas, Macau and other casino markets. Either way, we’ve been heading in this direction in the 21 months since the well-reported and highly-cited Wall Street Journal article recounted a “decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Wynn.” Ten days after the story broke, Wynn stepped down as chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts, the company he founded in 2000 that has since grown into a casino conglomerate with properties in Las Vegas, Macau and Boston. Six weeks later, Wynn sold his entire stake in the company, some 12.1 million shares, for $2.1 billion. During that time frame, then-Gaming Control Board Chairwoman Becky Harris placed Wynn’s gaming license on an administrative hold while the agency opened an investigation into both the company and Wynn himself. Although Steve Wynn denied the allegations, the investigation confirmed he paid confidential settlements out of his own pocket – one as high as $7.5 million – to silence his accusers, requiring the women to sign nondisclosure agreements. In response, Wynn Resorts imploded its board of directors, remade its executive team, and implemented nearly two dozen corporate policy changes regarding sexual harassment. Still, Nevada gaming regulators assessed a $20 million fine against the company – the largest monetary discipline to be handed down in Nevada’s history – to account for past transgressions. Shortly before opening the $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor, Massachusetts fined the company $35 million to settle its own investigation. Steve Wynn was never licensed in the state. Wynn Resorts leaders have been trying to put the Steve Wynn matter behind them. They were caught off-guard, however, by this recent filing. A few said they didn’t know about the complaint until the Nevada Independent broke the news. The Control Board issued a brief statement the day after the filing, saying the agency had “continued its investigation” of Wynn after the company agreed to a settlement and paid the $20 million fine. The Control Board “unanimously decided to file a complaint to commence disciplinary proceedings” against the former CEO. “The Board is confident that the facts set forth in the complaint support the position that Mr. Wynn’s finding of suitability should be revoked by the Nevada Gaming Commission,” the statement said. Control Board Chairwoman Sandra Douglass Morgan told me at the Global Gaming Expo she couldn’t comment about a pending disciplinary matter. But she gave a flat out “no” when asked if there was anything to read into the timing – the complaint was filed on the first day of the gaming industry’s largest tradeshow and conference. Media covering G2E found few who would comment on the record about the action. This latest controversy involving Steve Wynn keeps putting me in mind of the opening lines of the 1899 poem, “Antigonish,” by William Hughes Mearns: “Yesterday, upon the stair, I met a man who wasn’t there! He wasn’t there again today, Oh how I wish he’d go away!” Some in the industry probably have these same feelings. Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.