Nevada Regulators to Appeal Court Ruling for Right to Punish Steve Wynn

Posted on: December 18, 2020, 02:01h. 

Last updated on: December 18, 2020, 02:13h.

Nevada regulators have vowed to appeal a Clark County District Court judgment that they have no jurisdiction over disgraced casino tycoon Steve Wynn.

Steve Wynn
Steve Wynn removed himself from the Nevada casino industry voluntarily in 2018 and says he has no intention to return. (Image: Boston Globe)

On Thursday, the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) voted unanimously to challenge the ruling, echoing a December 2 resolution by the Gaming Control Board.

The agencies had sought to punish Wynn for his alleged sexual misconduct towards numerous female Wynn Resorts employees by imposing an unspecified financial penalty on the 78-year-old. They also wanted to declare him “unsuitable to be associated with a gaming enterprise or the gaming industry as a whole.”

Misconduct and Exile

But Wynn’s lawyers argued the agencies could not fine or ban their client from Nevada’s gaming industry. They said that’s because he was no longer a gaming licensee and had voluntarily exiled himself from the industry. Therefore, the complaint against Wynn was moot, and their assertion that they retained jurisdiction over him was “draconian” and false, they argued.

Wynn resigned as chairman and CEO from Wynn Resorts and sold off his stake in the company in 2018 after a Wall Street Journal article alleged a “decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct against employees.”

In February 2019, the NGC imposed a $20 million fine on his former company, Wynn Resorts, for failures of board members to investigate allegations against its founder. This included a $7.5 million payment Wynn made to a former manicurist, who alleged he had raped and impregnated her.

Wynn has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct. He claimed while giving testimony in a separate court case that the woman who received the payoff had played him for the money.

Regulator Overreach

In a mid-November ruling, Clark County District Court Judge Adriana Escobar agreed with Wynn’s lawyers’ arguments that the two regulatory bodies had overstepped their legal authority.

“Respondents fail to provide any authority supporting their jurisdiction over a person no longer involved in Nevada’s gaming industry in any capacity,” wrote Escobar. “Importantly, respondents fail to support their position that they have jurisdiction over a person with no intent to be involved in Nevada’s gaming industry in the future. Why? There is none.”

The decision to appeal will now be evaluated by the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, although there is no indication yet whether it intends to pursue the matter.

Since leaving the casino business, Wynn has reinvented himself as a dealer of priceless works of art. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported last week he had opened an art gallery in Palm Beach, Florida. It has been open to private collectors for about a year, but only recently opened to the public. It’s currently showcasing works by Roy Lichtenstein, LVRJ noted.