A proposal by Wynn Resorts Ltd inviting regulators in Massachusetts, in the United States, to impose a rule banning the casino company’s founder Steve Wynn from the group’s resorts, would – if adopted – also be a Massachusetts regulatory condition applicable to the group’s Macau properties.
The confirmation – relating to the regulatory tussle over whether Wynn Resorts is “suitable” to hold a gaming licence for its new US$2.6-billion Encore Boston Harbor project – was provided to GGRAsia by a company spokesperson.
U.S.-based casino operator Wynn Resorts is the parent of Wynn Macau Ltd. The latter owns and operates casino-hotel Wynn Macau on the Macau peninsula, and Wynn Palace in the Cotai district.
The Wynn organisation has also expressed interest in running a casino in Japan once casino gambling is legalised there.
The proposal to ban Mr Wynn (pictured in a file photo) from all Wynn Resorts’ properties was featured in a 49-page legal brief filed by the company last week with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. The document – seen by GGRAsia – stated that Mr Wynn “shall be prohibited, as allowed by law, from being on the premises of any resort facility wholly-owned by Wynn Resorts.”
The company included the idea in a list of 13 measures it suggested the Massachusetts regulator set as conditions in exchange for a favourable final decision on the group’s suitability for the Encore Boston Harbor licence. The suitability issue is part of the fallout from the sexual misconduct allegations against Mr Wynn. He resigned from the group in February last year; amid questions about how much then-members of the board and senior executives did or did not know prior to the allegations being widely publicised in media reports.
Wynn Resorts stated in the submission to Massachusetts seen by GGRAsia: “Such measures if accepted by the commission and incorporated into a decision in this matter, will provide additional assurances that the allegations and misconduct that led to the investigations… do not occur again and ensure that the most important changes implemented by the company over the last year may be enforced as licence conditions.”
Other measures suggested by the casino operator in the legal brief included prohibiting the company or any of its executives from having any “business relationship” or “social contact” with Mr Wynn or “any business entity controlled by him or in which he has a 5-percent or greater interest”. Any “inadvertent contact” with Mr Wynn should be reported to the Massachusetts regulator within 10 days of contact, it was suggested.
These measures would also apply to Wynn Macau Ltd and its executives, the Wynn Resorts’ spokesperson told GGRAsia.
In addition, the legal brief included proposals related to improvement and regular review of Wynn Resorts’ policies on preventing harassment and discrimination.
‘Deeply sorry’ but ‘suitable’
Mr Wynn has denied the sexual misconduct allegations, notwithstanding that the state of Nevada – where Wynn Resorts currently has its U.S. business – confirmed he had paid millions of U.S. dollars to one complainant. After his departure, the firm made sweeping changes to the membership of its board.
In February this year, the Nevada Gaming Commission fined Wynn Resorts US$20 million for failing to take appropriate action in response to the allegations of sexual misconduct made against Mr Wynn.
In its legal brief to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, Wynn Resorts reiterated its belief that it had proved itself suitable to maintain the licence the state awarded to the company in 2014.
The company said it was “deeply sorry that it failed to live up to its values and that, in doing so, it let its employees down.” It added that, over the past 12 months, it had “taken drastic and meaningful measures” to protect staff against risk of sexual harassment.
“Wynn Resorts’ acceptance of responsibility and regret for past failures does not render the organisation unsuitable today,” the company noted in its legal brief.
Wynn Resorts also said there was “absolutely no evidence” that long-serving company executive Matt Maddox “was aware of any of the allegations of sexual misconduct” against Mr Wynn, prior to these being made public in media reports.
Mr Maddox assumed the role of chief executive at Wynn Resorts in February 2018, following the resignation of Mr Wynn. He has been with the company since 2002, serving as president since 2013.
Wynn Resorts announced on April 10 it had received written confirmation from the Nevada Gaming Control Board that Mr Maddox remained “in good standing” with that regulator.
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"One thing that is certain under the coronavirus era is that the biggest beneficiaries are the illegal operators, both bricks and mortar and online"
Partner and director overseeing government affairs at casino industry consultancy Global Market Advisors