Massachusetts Gaming Regulators Schedule Wynn Hearings, Casino Execs Say Company Transformed

Posted on: March 24, 2019, 04:00h. 

Last updated on: April 1, 2019, 12:16h.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) will begin its hearings on Wynn Resorts’ suitability to operate a casino in the state on April 1.

Massachusetts gaming Encore Boston Harbor
Massachusetts gaming regulators are set to determine the fate of Wynn Resorts’ Encore Boston Harbor. (Image: Steven Senne/AP)

After months of legal delays, the five-member commission has received its agency’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau report detailing whether Wynn Resorts purposely withheld knowledge of the company’s founder and former CEO’s alleged sexual misconduct during its 2013 bidding for the Boston-area gaming license.

Wynn Resorts beat out a competing bid from Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs horse racetrack. At the time of being awarded the Region B license, the MGC concluded that Steve Wynn was “highly ethical,” and “a perfectionist who is passionate about everything he does.”

The commission will decide whether to impose a financial penalty on the casino operator, or worse yet – revoke the $85 million casino concession.

Changed Company

In its own investigation, the Nevada Gaming Control Board concluded that Wynn Resorts executives or upper management became aware of the sexual misconduct allegations on numerous occassions, but did little in response. The state subsequently imposed a record $20 million fine on the company, but did not revoke its casino licenses.

In the leadup to the Massachusetts gaming hearings, Wynn Resorts continues to do damage control in an effort to highlight its changed culture. New CEO Matt Maddox says the company has never been about one man, and highlights the leadership overhaul as an important step the company has taken since his billionaire mentor resigned more than a year ago.

Over the past 12 months, Wynn Resorts has undergone a corporate transformation,” a Wynn release filed with the MGC declares. “The individuals who failed to live up to the company’s high standards and values have all been removed.”

Wynn Resorts says it conducted its own internal investigation into the sexual misconduct safeguard shortcomings, revamped its board and executive management team, implemented a “Preventing Harassment and Discrimination Policy,” and now mandates that all employees undergo sexual harassment training.

Odds Favor Fine

Wynn’s $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor is scheduled to open June 23, and the property is now taking reservations. The MGC’s decision to revoke the casino’s operating permit would suspend thousands of jobs, and likely lead to millions of dollars in lost tax revenue and regional economic benefits.

That’s why some analysts believe the commission will simply impose a fine on the casino operator for failing to disclose the sexual allegations, should the MGC determine they were known.

Gaming analyst Clyde Barrow predicts all the blame will be placed on the billionaire. “It’ll look bad for Wynn, and the commission will plead, ‘We didn’t know to look for it, and they withheld information,'” he stated.

However, if the MGC does indeed pull the license, Mohegan Sun says it would be interested in acquiring the integrated casino resort and entering the Massachusetts market. “Mohegan Sun is prepared to participate in a process that would assign that license to another operator,” the tribal gaming group said late last year.