Disgraced billionaire Steve Wynn filed a lawsuit last month against his former casino company and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC), and the legal action is delaying the gaming regulator’s ability to move forward its investigation into whether Encore Boston Harbor will retain its operating license.
At a meeting this week, MGC commissioners explained that they must stay away from the investigative process while the lawsuit remains active. Wynn attorneys argue that the MGC’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau has “conducted their months-long investigation into Wynn Resorts with total disregard for protecting the privileged communications of Mr. Wynn.”
The MGC investigative unit is trying to determine if Wynn Resorts purposely withheld knowledge of their founder’s alleged sexual misconduct during the company’s bidding for the Boston casino license in 2014.
MGC Interim Chair Gayle Cameron said Thursday, “My fellow commissioners and I are ready to adjudicate this matter, and eager to assess the findings. Identifying a viable way to bring the investigation to a close is an urgent priority.”
Timetable off the Table
Prior to Wynn’s lawsuit, which names Wynn Resorts, the MGC, and MGC Investigations and Enforcement Bureau Director Karen Wells as defendants, the gaming commission said the review was coming to a close, and the adjudicatory process would begin in September. That was pushed back to October, and later, December.
Now, the MGC admits there is no concrete timeframe as to when the matter might be resolved.
Both IEB and the licensee will hopefully soon present evidence orally or in writing and the commissioners will then have unrestricted opportunity to ask questions of both the IEB and the licensee,” Cameron explained. “Since the commissioners, the four of us, sit as the judges in this adjudicatory proceeding, we must make our decision impartially based solely on the evidence before us.”
“We must not in any way have access to investigations materials prior to the adjudicatory process,” she concluded.
The MGC has numerous penalties it could impose on Wynn Resorts. They include a substantial fine into the seven-digit rage, a suspension of the casino’s permit, and the worse-case scenario: revocation of the $85 million license.
Steve Wynn is accused of sexually assaulting and harassing female workers over his several decades-long career. Though he continues to deny he ever acted inappropriately, the billionaire resigned as CEO and chairman a month after the allegations came to light, and he’s since sold off his entire stake in the company.
New leadership at Wynn say the company was never about one man. Three women have since been appointed to the board of directors, and longtime gaming industry veteran Phil Satre has taken over as chairman.
Earlier this month, Satre said license revocation would be unfair to the thousands of people who have worked on the $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor, and the thousands more who will be employed once it’s scheduled to open in June.
“It’s not fair to this company and to the 4,000 people that will be working there. It’s not fair to all the management that we brought in to operate this casino. Frankly, I don’t think it’s fair to the taxpayers of the state or the cities that benefit from this company,” Satre opined.