The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) voted during its Wednesday meeting to appeal a recent court decision that went in favor of disgraced casino tycoon Steve Wynn.
Clark County District Court Judge Adriana Escobar ruled last month that gaming regulators in Nevada no longer have any legal jurisdiction over the 78-year-old billionaire. In 2018, Steve Wynn resigned from Wynn Resorts and sold off his stake in the casino empire he founded after allegations of decades of sexual misconduct came to light in a Wall Street Journal publication.
Wynn remains steadfast in his innocence, but the NGCB and its superior — the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) — are seeking to place a lifetime ban on him from ever doing business again in the state gaming industry. Nevada gaming officials are also seeking financial damages for his failure to adhere to state regulations.
During a lengthy remote meeting Wednesday, the three-member NGCB voted to appeal Judge Escobar’s ruling.
Following a 2019 probe conducted by the NGCB’s Investigations Division, the agency concluded that Steve Wynn is not suitable to work in the casino industry. The inquiry pinpointed five counts of Steve Wynn failing to adhere to Nevada’s gaming laws.
The NGCB recommended to the Nevada Gaming Commission that a lifetime ban be placed on Steve Wynn, and the higher agency endorsed the motion. As a result, attorneys for Steve Wynn sued the NGCB and NGG.
Judge Escobar determined that since Steve Wynn is no longer involved in any capacity of the Silver State gaming industry, nor seeks to become involved, the state gaming regulators have no right to ban him. The judge added that the NGCB and NGC failed to support why they would have jurisdiction over someone not involved in the industry they regulate.
If the NGCB indeed appeals, the odds are long that the Nevada Supreme Court will take up the case. The state’s highest court accepted only 2.7 percent of the cases it was petitioned in 2019.
Wednesday’s meeting was the first chaired by Brin Gibson, who was nominated by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) in November. Gibson filled the vacancy left by Sandra Morgan Douglas, who stepped down in October from the agency to join the board of directors at Fidelity National Financial.
Gibson’s first chairing was dealt a significant matter in dealing with Steve Wynn. Credited with helping transition Las Vegas from a seedy mob-run gambling town to a five-star, luxury entertainment destination, Steve Wynn conceptualized and built many of the Strip’s most notable properties, including Bellagio, The Mirage, Treasure Island, and Wynn Las Vegas and Encore.
Gibson knows the law well, as he served as Sisolak’s general counsel from January 2019 through January 2020. He was previously first attorney general and chief of the Gaming Division within the Nevada Attorney General’s Office.
Gibson follows two women heading the NGCB. Morgan preceded Becky Harris, who was the first female in Nevada history to chair the NGCB. Morgan was the first black woman to occupy the role.