Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s Wynn Resorts Investigation to be Updated Thursday, State Gaming License Could Be at Stake

Posted on: September 25, 2018, 04:45h. 

Last updated on: September 25, 2018, 04:45h.

Thursday’s Massachusetts Gaming Commission meeting will reveal where the commission stands in its investigation into how Wynn Resorts responded to sexual abuse allegations brought against company founder Steve Wynn.

Former Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn and Massachusetts Gaming Commission chairman Stephen Crosby talk during an October 2017 Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Luncheon. On Thursday, Crosby and the MGC will reveal the next step in its investigation into Wynn Resorts handling of sexual abuse allegations brought against Wynn. (Photo: Commonwealth Magazine)

Wynn Resort’s license to operate a casino in Massachusetts, awarded in 2014, has been in question as the subject of the commission’s investigation since January.

The commission launched the investigation shortly after a Wall Street Journal article detailed decades of Wynn’s alleged sexual abuses against female employees of his company, ranging from cocktail waitresses to nail technicians and masseuses.

The September 27 agenda lists the “logistical planning for the Wynn Resorts Hearing Process” as one of the final items for discussion on Thursday as the Gaming Commission’s eight month investigation nears its end.

At an earlier meeting this month, Gaming Commission chairman Steve Crosby said the investigation encompasses “not only what happened but who knew about it, when did they know about it and what did they do about it,” according to a news story.

Cleaning Up The Mess

In August Wynn Resorts closed its own internal investigation into the sexual abuse allegations, but did not make the findings public.

Wynn Executive Vice President Ellen Whittemore hinted that the gaming operator’s own findings could eventually be made known, but not “until the regulatory investigations are completed.”

Along with the MGC, the Nevada Gaming Control Board and the Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau are also investigating Wynn Resorts’ gaming licenses in those jurisdictions. As those investigations have gone on, the company has tried its best to show regulators that, despite the now-tainted legacy of the name, Wynn Resorts is no longer associated with Steve Wynn.

In May, the MGC ruled that Wynn and his former company had adequately severed ties, and that Wynn was no longer an “individual qualifier,” meaning he no longer had any controlling stake in the company.

That ruling represented a victory for Wynn Resorts as it attempt to move forward with the cleanest possible slate on the $2.5 billion Encore Boston Harbor, scheduled to open in 2019. Matt Maddox, who took over as the company’s CEO when Wynn resigned, told the MGC in April that “Steve Wynn is not Wynn Resorts.”

The MGC has authority to levy disciplinary action against Wynn Resorts in the form of a fine or suspension or even revocation of the company’s license.

More Trouble in Massachusetts

Wynn Resorts received the license from the MGC in 2014, but that process has been called into question by the city of Boston. The city’s leaders sued the MGC in 2015, saying Boston lost out on $18 million from a community compensation agreement it would have benefitted from, had the license been given to the Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs instead.

Last week Suffolk Downs brought a $3 billion lawsuit against Wynn Resorts, saying Wynn Resorts “conspired to fix the application process, circumvent laws in place to prevent the infiltration of mob elements, and interfere and eliminate various regulations aimed at protecting the public at large.”

The lawsuit filed by the city of Boston alleged that Wynn Resorts knew it was purchasing land for what would become Encore Boston Harbor from a convicted felon with mob ties. The case was dismissed in 2016.