At one time, Steve Wynn was one of the biggest titans in casino gambling. He was responsible for the rebuilding and refashioning of the Las Vegas Strip. He also built casinos in Atlantic City and Macau. He was a visionary on the gambling scene. However, that all came crashing down last year when several female employees accused him of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
During the last year, what has been going on with the case against Steve Wynn? Keep reading to find out.
A Brief Biography of Steve Wynn
Steve Wynn was born in Connecticut to a man who ran a number of bingo parlors along the East Coast. Wynn went to a private school in New York. Right before he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Winn’s father died of a heart attack. His father left a heavy burden of debt on the family because he was addicted to gambling. Winn had planned to go to law school after college. However, he gave up his position at Yale to take over the family business. He was immediately successful and began to expand the company a year after taking over.
After his success along the Eastern Seaboard, Wynn moved to Las Vegas and began to buy up land and hotels. The first casino Wynn purchased in Las Vegas was the Golden Nugget. Wynn believed he could attract people back to the failing Las Vegas Strip by giving them luxury. He also brought celebrity talent to the casinos. Wynn was the youngest casino owner in Las Vegas at the time. He built several casinos on The Strip, including Treasure Island, Mirage, Bellagio, and Wynn Las Vegas. Each one was more opulent than the last.
Steve Wynn also expanded his company into Asia when he opened Wynn Macau. The company now owns three casinos in Macau, which has overtaken Las Vegas as the gambling capital of the world.
The Allegations of Sexual Misconduct
Clearly, Steve Wynn is a visionary when it comes to gaming. He has built some of the most luxurious resorts in the world devoted to gambling. But there have been rumors and innuendos of sexual misconduct for more than 20 years regarding Wynn and his employees. The Wall Street Journal published a piece in January 2018 about Wynn. In it, the newspaper alleged that Wynn was sexually harassing the female employees of his company.
In the article, dozens of women who were still employed or who were previously employed at Wynn Resorts made allegations. They alleged that Wynn demanded nude massages and sex acts. Some of the harassment complaints dated to the 1980s. One of the women sued Wynn in the early 2000s. She was a manicurist at Wynn Las Vegas. She said that Wynn coerced her into a sexual relationship. Wynn paid her $7.5 million to keep quiet and did not tell his board of directors. He also settled a lawsuit brought by an employee in 2006. The suit alleged that he also coerced this employee into a sexual relationship. While some employees have alleged he raped or sexually assaulted them, there have been no charges filed in those cases.
The Fallout from the Sexual Misconduct Allegations
About a month after the Wall Street Journal article, Steve Wynn resigned as chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts. The company currently owns two casinos in Las Vegas, with a third projected to open in 2020. Wynn sold many of his resort hotels in Las Vegas to MGM to continue to expand into Asia. The company also own a casino in Massachusetts. Its scheduled opening is June 2019.
Wynn has also sold all his shares in the company. The largest shareholder is his ex-wife, Elaine. Interestingly, Elaine helped found Wynn Resorts with her husband. When they divorced in 2010, the board pushed her out. She retained her stock in the company in their divorce settlement. Wynn Resorts is still facing lawsuits from several current and former employees for sexual harassment allegations.
Wynn Resorts’ Hefty Fine
In February, Wynn Resorts received a $20 million fine by the Nevada Gaming Commission. It is the largest fine ever levied by the commission. In its report, the commission cited an ongoing climate of fear and intimidation at the company. It stated that senior executives with the company were made aware of the allegations of sexual harassment. However, the executives did not make any moves to investigate these allegations. Employees told the senior executives several times that Wynn was harassing female employees, and, still, the company remained silent. Employees allege that a culture of fear prevailed because the company did not act on the allegations. However, the gaming commission did not hit Wynn Resorts where it hurt. It could have revoked the casino company’s licenses to operate. This would have deprived the Nevada casinos of billions of dollars in revenue.
Wynn Resorts has claimed that it has made changes to its company since Steve Wynn stepped down. It has three new female board members. The company has also hired an executive to handle any sexual harassment claims.
The Licensing of the Massachusetts Casino
One of Wynn Resorts greatest challenges after the sexual harassment allegations was the licensing of its new casino resort in Massachusetts. The scheduled opening of the Encore Boston Harbor is right before the July 4th holiday. The casino resort will have around 700 rooms and around 120,000 square feet of gaming space. There will be high-roller gaming rooms for poker and space for VIP slots. Wynn’s design for the Boston casino is similar to the other casinos in the Encore line. There are high-end luxury restaurants and shops, a greenspace/garden, and a walkway to Boston Harbor.
The casino is the largest in Massachusetts. The company believes its impact on the area’s economy will be huge. However, the casino resort has had opposition. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has had repeated hearings on whether to grant a license to the casino. The commission has expressed concerns over the operation of the casino by a company embroiled in sexual harassment allegations. At this time, the commission has not decided whether to grant a license.
Wynn Resort’s position has been Wynn is no longer with the company. He no longer owns stock in the company, so there should not be a problem with a license. The company said if it was suitable for preliminary approval for the casino in 2013, it should receive approval now. Wynn Resorts said that unless the gaming commission can prove problems with the company, it must grant the final license.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission stated this week that it wouldn’t grant a license to the casino resort without careful consideration. Wynn Resorts has spent $2.5 billion on the casino’s construction. The gaming commission wants to be sure the company has put the past behind it with regard to sexual harassment. The commission has expressed concerns that while some of the executives have changed, the climate may not have. It is concerned that the overall culture of the company remains the same. The commission thinks even though Wynn is no longer a part of the company, there is still a cover-up.
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