The Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday denied Steve Wynn’s motion to dismiss regulators’ complaint against him, setting up a showdown that is likely headed to court.
In a unanimous vote, commission members rejected the argument made by Wynn’s attorney, Donald Campbell, that the issue is not within their jurisdiction. The complaint, lodged by the Nevada Gaming Control Board in October, seeks to declare Wynn unsuitable to hold a state gaming license. The move followed numerous sexual misconduct allegations that surfaced against the casino mogul in early 2018.
But the complaint has triggered a legal battle between Wynn and the Gaming Control Board, with several court filings preceding Thursday’s commission meeting.
During his presentation to commissioners, Campbell said Wynn swiftly ceased all personal involvement and financial interests in his namesake company, Wynn Resorts, ending his 50-year gaming career in Nevada.
“We have told the attorney general in private discussions that, in fact, Mr. Wynn has no intention — repeat, no intention — to re-enter gaming in Nevada or anywhere else in the world,” he said. “None.”
Campbell argued the Gaming Commission has no jurisdictional authority to discipline an individual no longer involved in the industry. Wynn does not hold a state gaming license but was previously found suitable to be associated with a license holder, he said.
“Simply put, the Nevada Legislature has neither expressly nor impliedly authorized the commission or the board to do what is advanced in the complaint,” he said.
But the attorney general’s office, which was representing the Gaming Control Board, disagreed and argued the powers of the commission would be eviscerated if individuals could avoid discipline by simply cutting all ties to the industry.
“That is what he is proposing — a bright line to say that the person once found suitable may have the power over your jurisdiction,” said Steven Shevorski, chief litigation counsel in the attorney general’s office. “They can cut it off whenever they choose to get around the power that justly belongs with this commission. That is the dangerous proposition, and I urge you to reject it.”
Ultimately, the five-member commission sided with that argument. The commissioners did not have any questions for either party and, instead, moved straight into deliberations, where it became clear they had a consensus to deny Wynn’s motion.
“I believe this commission has a duty to listen to this case, determine whether discipline is warranted for the good of Nevada, its citizens and the gaming industry,” Commission Chairman Tony Alamo said. “This commission has full and absolute power and authority to discipline persons who have been found suitable.”
Campbell chalked up the commission’s decision to “the nature of the beast” — a governing body trying to uphold its power — and vowed to take this issue to Clark County District Court and all the way up to the Nevada Supreme Court if necessary.
“We have every degree of confidence that when we get to the Nevada Supreme Court on this, they are going to agree with us,” he said. "There is just too much law and precedent that establishes that they don't have the jurisdiction to do what they have done here. They simply don’t have it.”
Alamo urged both parties to meet and hash out a resolution before a full hearing on the merits, saying he believes “there’s room for settlement here.”
But Campbell said he doesn’t anticipate ever discussing a settlement given the ongoing jurisdictional issue.
“We get to exercise our right to go to the courts,” he said.