The gaming world was spun on its side last Friday afternoon when a Wall Street Journal report went public and described an alleged pattern of sexual harassment by Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn – allegations that filtered through Las Vegas and into Everett where Wynn is building a $2.4 billion resort casino.
Wynn, for his part, and the parent company, Wynn Resorts, has pushed back heavily against the allegations in strong statements on Friday.
“The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous,” said Steve Wynn in a statement. “We find ourselves in a world where people can make allegations, regardless of the truth, and a person is left with the choice of weathering insulting publicity or engaging in multi-year lawsuits. It is deplorable for anyone to find themselves in this situation.”
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) has responded to the allegations as well, initiating an investigation by its Investigation and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) and holding a meeting on the matter yesterday, Jan. 31.
“The IEB immediately initiated a review of this matter to assess implications for ongoing suitability and investigators will provide the five-member Commission with a status update,” read a statement from the MGC on Monday. “The Commission is profoundly aware of the gravity of this matter and will proceed with the appropriate sense of urgency and rigor.
Wynn Boston Harbor said in a statement that they are working closely with the MGC and will cooperate with the investigation.
The Wall St. Journal story detailed – from the first paragraph – the allegation of a manicurist in Las Vegas who was called to Wynn’s office in 2005 and allegedly forced to have sex with the casino mogul. That woman was given a $7.5 million settlement after reporting the matter to Human Resources in Las Vegas.
The Journal also alleged that it interviewed dozens of other workers who have worked at Wynn casinos and they also detailed what the Journal reported as a pattern of misconduct.
That was followed up by Wynn resigning as Republican National Committee finance chairman on Saturday – a post he only took up early last year.
In their statements, Wynn and Wynn Resorts delved deep into the ongoing divorce suit between Wynn and his ex-wife, Elaine, citing that as the source of the allegations.
“The instigation of these accusations is the continued work of my ex-wife Elaine Wynn, with whom I am involved in a terrible and nasty lawsuit in which she is seeking a revised divorce settlement,” said Wynn in his statement. “Elaine has allegedly explicitly threatened to slander and destroy me and I am surprised that the media is allowing itself to be used to advance this agenda. The conduct of Elaine during the course of the pending lawsuits has been shocking and deeply disturbing to me personally and as the CEO of Wynn Resorts. Despite such conduct, I have repeatedly refused to capitulate to her demands. In response, I remain focused on Wynn Resorts, our employees and our shareholders and will not be distracted from those efforts.”
A lawyer representing Elaine Wynn told the Wall Street Journal that they were not using the allegations as a strategy in the ongoing suit.
Wynn Resorts – the Wynn parent company – went into much greater detail about the litigation. “The recent allegations about Mr. Wynn reflect allegations made in court hearings by Mr. Wynn’s ex-wife, Elaine Wynn, in her legal battle with him and the company,” read the statement. “It is clear that Mr. Wynn’s ex-wife has sought to use a negative public relations campaign to achieve what she has been unable to do in the courtroom: tarnish the reputation of Mr. Wynn in an attempt to pressure a revised divorce settlement from him.”
Wynn Resorts said it was “noteworthy” to point out that Elaine Wynn knew of the 2005 sexual harassment allegation as far back as 2009, but never made it known to the Board of Directors. She was a member of the Board at that time, and did not bring up those allegations until Steve Wynn remarried and the shareholders voted not to re-elect Elaine to the Board, they stated.
“Wynn Resorts is committed to operating with the highest ethical standards and maintaining a safe and respectful culture that has made Wynn Resorts the employer of choice for 23,000 employees worldwide,” read the statement. “The Company requires all employees to receive annual anti-harassment training and offers an independent hotline that any employee can use anonymously, without fear of retaliation. Since the inception of the company, not one complaint was made to that hotline regarding Mr. Wynn.”