The Nevada Gaming Control Board has opened an investigation into the allegations of sexual misconduct against casino mogul Steve Wynn, the board’s chairwoman said Tuesday afternoon.
The announcement is the first concrete action the Nevada gaming regulatory board has taken in the wake of a Wall Street Journal report on Friday detailing a decades-long pattern of sexual harassment and assault by the Nevada casino mogul. The board’s chairwoman, Becky Harris, told The Nevada Independent on Friday that the board was aware of the situation and was reviewing the available information.
“After completing our review the Nevada Gaming Control Board is conducting an investigation with regard to the allegations of sexual misconduct involving Steve Wynn,” Harris said in the Tuesday statement. “The Nevada Gaming Control Board will conduct its investigation in a thorough and judicious manner.”
The Nevada Gaming Control Board, one of two entities responsible for overseeing gaming regulation in the state, has the authority to take punitive action individually against Wynn as a licensee without affecting the overall corporation’s license. It is now one of two gaming regulatory investigations into the allegations against Wynn on the heels of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s Friday announcement that it would conduct a regulatory review of Wynn Resorts, which is building a casino near Boston.
State law gives the Nevada Gaming Commission the authority to determine who is qualified to receive a gaming license and requires that they find the applicant “a person of good character, honesty and integrity.” Nevada gaming regulations also state that it is the policy of both the board and the commission to require that all gaming establishments are operated in a manner suitable to protect the “public health, safety, morals, good order and general welfare of the inhabitants of the State of Nevada.”
Wynn, 76, has called the idea that he ever assaulted any woman “preposterous.” He is accused of pressuring former employees to perform sex acts, including forcing a manicurist to have sex with him in 2005 and later paying her a $7.5 million settlement.
“We find ourselves in a world where people can make allegations, regardless of the truth, and a person is left with the choice of weathering insulting publicity or engaging in multi-year lawsuits. It is deplorable for anyone to find themselves in this situation.”
Wynn has accused his ex-wife, Elaine Wynn, of instigating the allegations in the middle of a bitter divorce. The company, Wynn Resorts, also said in a statement that it has an independent hotline for anonymous complaints and that Wynn had not been the target of any complaint since the company’s inception.
After tumbling 19 percent in the wake of the sexual misconduct allegations, Wynn Resorts stock crept back up in the afternoon on Monday, closing at $171.39. It is unclear what effect the board’s decision will have when the stock market opens on Wednesday, though market analysts have said that whether the board decides to take punitive action against Wynn as a licensee will have a significant impact on the stock price.
Disclosure: The Nevada Independent has taken donations from Wynn Resorts and The Elaine P. Wynn and Family Foundation. See our full list of donors here. The board of The Nevada Independent had a meeting on 1/29/18 to discuss whether to return the $75,000 2017 donation from Wynn Resorts. The vote was unanimous in favor of keeping the contribution. Editor Jon Ralston explained the decision here.