Regulators: Wynn fine ends “dark chapter” that blemished Nevada gaming industry

July 27, 2023 9:00 PM
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports
July 27, 2023 9:00 PM

The imposition of a $10 million fine, the largest against an individual in Nevada gaming history, put an end Thursday to the saga of former casino mogul Steve Wynn, with one regulator calling it “a blemish on the industry” and another saying it concludes a “dark chapter” in the state’s gaming history.

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The Nevada Gaming Commission Thursday approved a settlement agreement negotiated by the Nevada Gaming Control Board and Wynn, who has since sold his home in Las Vegas and moved to Florida. He didn’t appear in the hearing that lasted fewer than 10 minutes, but his attorneys Don Campbell and Colby Williams were present.

The stipulation for settlement resolved a complaint filed by the Gaming Control Board in October 2019, alleging that Wynn’s activities “put the reputation of the gaming industry and the state of Nevada at risk.”

First Assistant Attorney General of Nevada Craig Newby reiterated to the Commission that case resulted from a seven-month investigation that “found evidence of sexual misconduct by Mr. Wynn involving subordinate female employees.”

Four of the five-count complaint concerned Wynn’s “failure to exercise discretion and sound judgment to prevent incidents that might reflect on the repute of the state of Nevada and act as a detriment to the development of the industry,” Newby said. The fifth count was the refusal by Wynn to appear before and testify to the Gaming Control Board in September 2018, Newby said.

As part of the agreement, however, Wynn, the former CEO and founder of Wynn Resorts, neither admitted nor denied the allegations in the complaint, while agreeing to the $10 million fine that must be paid within three business days.

Additionally, Wynn agreed that he will no longer have any direct or indirect involvement in the Nevada gaming industry or with individuals and entities subject to Nevada’s gaming regulation.

The agreement means Wynn remains removed from direct or indirect involvement and affiliation with financing, consultation, promotions or licensing in the Nevada gaming industry, Newby said.

The $10 million fine is second to the $20 million imposed on Wynn Resorts in 2019 on the matter. In 2019, Massachusetts issued a $35 million fine against Wynn Resorts.

Gaming Commission members said they supported the settlement and the amount of the fine.

Commissioner Ogonna Brown said she trusts the agreement was “heavily negotiated and vetted” and gave deference to it. “I appreciate you working so diligently, so we don’t have to air our dirty laundry today and move forward in a positive direction,” Brown said.

Commissioner Brian Krolicki said he wanted to commend all of the parties on resolving the matter, which was also dealt with by previous Boards and Commissions. “It’s complicated and I’m delighted we’re in a position where all parties are wishing to move forward.”

Commissioner Rosa Solis-Rainey appreciated the efforts to bring the issue to a close, but leveled the harshest criticism of what transpired with Wynn and the national spotlight it put on the Nevada gaming industry. “It’s a huge blemish on the industry. Mr. Wynn made incredible contributions, but the nature of the allegations and the history behind them at least warrant the amount of the fine that was negotiated.”

After the hearing, Gaming Control Board Chairman Kirk Hendrick issued a statement saying the Board is satisfied with the resolution with Wynn and that it protects the gaming industry and the citizens of Nevada. “Closing this dark chapter in Nevada’s gaming history allows more time for the Board to continue effectively and efficiently regulating Nevada’s most important industry.”

Control Board member George Assad noted in a statement how the fine is the largest ever levied against an individual in the state. “The magnitude of the fine, along with other conditions in the Stipulation for Settlement and Order demonstrate how serious the Board and Commission took the allegations in the disciplinary complaint.”