weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Steve Wynn, Nevada gaming regulators coming to a head this week

Top executives at Wynn Resorts Ltd. gave serious consideration to changing the name of the company when sexual harassment and assault allegations against co-founder Steve Wynn surfaced and led to him leaving the company.

Leaders acted swiftly in taking the Wynn name off the resort they were building in suburban Boston after some people there expressed outrage over the accusations. “Wynn Boston Harbor” quickly became “Encore Boston Harbor.”

Meanwhile, Steve Wynn steadfastly denied ever harassing or assaulting anyone, and regulators in Massachusetts and Nevada had yet to determine how they were going to deal with him.

Within four months of Wynn stepping down as chairman and CEO in February 2018 and divesting himself from the company a month later, Massachusetts regulators concluded they weren’t going to pursue action against him. Instead, they would focus its resources on determining when Wynn Resorts’ new management team and board of directors learned of the allegations and what, if anything, they did about them.

Because of Steve Wynn’s departure from the company, Massachusetts concluded he was no longer, in their terminology, a “qualifier” within the jurisdiction of that state’s regulators.

But Nevada regulators didn’t look at it that way.

‘Administrative hold’

It’s Nevada’s position that Wynn can’t surrender his gaming license until regulators say so.

His license and his suitability as a licensee are on “administrative hold,” and he remains subject to their scrutiny, Nevada regulators say.

This week the Nevada Gaming Commission is scheduled to conduct a hearing on a state Gaming Control Board complaint against Steve Wynn to ultimately determine whether he is in the regulators’ jurisdiction. On Thursday the five-member commission will take on the role of judge and jury in deciding whether Steve Wynn violated Nevada regulations and his suitability as a licensee with his alleged actions.

The Gaming Control Board first filed its five-count complaint against Steve Wynn on Oct. 14, seeking a fine from Wynn personally and a revocation of Wynn’s finding of suitability from the Nevada Gaming Commission that would likely prevent him from ever being licensed again by the state.

Steve Wynn and his attorneys have since traded back-and-forth responses with the Control Board.

Steve Wynn and his attorneys say the complaint is preposterous because Wynn, by stepping away as chairman, CEO and company investor, is no longer under the jurisdiction of Nevada regulators. They say he has no gaming license to surrender and there is nothing for regulators to revoke.

No one is expecting Steve Wynn to be present at Thursday’s hearing; doing so would lend credence to regulators’ belief that they still oversee and can punish him.

Should the commission conclude that Wynn is under their scrutiny and violated regulations, there are 19 guidelines for imposing penalties in disciplinary actions under Nevada Revised Statutes and the Control Board’s Regulation 7.

Relevant NRS statutes also list guidelines for fines — “not more than $100,000 for each separate violation of the provisions of this chapter …” That means a recommended fine for Steve Wynn could be up to $500,000 if the commission finds against him on all five counts.

Appeals possible

Statutes also provide for court appeals should the commission find in favor of the Control Board. Which means Thursday may not be the end of the Steve Wynn saga. It could drag on into next year and beyond with court appeals.

That leads back to the question of whether Wynn Resorts should change its name.

Within a couple of weeks of Steve Wynn’s resignation, the company conducted research among its customers and concluded that the vast majority of them had no idea who Steve Wynn is and what he was alleged to have done.

It appeared, they said, that his notoriety is greater among Southern Nevada residents, where he is widely credited as the man who forever changed the face of Las Vegas in the 1980s, ’90s and early 2000s with themed megaresorts and properties filled with art, gourmet food, luxury and high-end amenities.

Changing the name and brand of Wynn Resorts could do more harm than good in attracting national and international customers to its properties, the company found.

“We determined that the company, as a brand, was bigger than one person,” spokesman Michael Weaver told me last week.

The company launched an affirmative plan — “We Are Wynn” — making it clear that the company’s employees worldwide make the company and not one individual.

After establishing that, the company abandoned the idea of changing the name.

But it’s a topic that’s bound to come up yet again this week after regulators have their say.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
Boring Company could provide a solution to parking problems - VIDEO
LVCVA President and CEO Steve Hill believes a potential solution for parking problems is the Boring Company’s $52.5 million people-mover -- a system that could eventually be expanded citywide connecting resorts and even McCarran International Airport to the Convention Center.
The Blackstone Group has partnered with MGM Resorts to acquire more properties - VIDEO
A few months after the Blackstone Group bought the Bellagio for more than $4 billion, it has partnered with MGM Resorts on a deal to acquire two other Las Vegas Strip properties. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Young Innovator Award winner explains ReDawn - VIDEO
Sofia Ongele explains ReDawn, which uses a Chatbot named Dawn to help users find resources after a sexual assault. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: MedWand ties for title of Last Gadget Standing - VIDEO
Dr. Samir Qamar of Las Vegas presents MedWand, a medical device that allows physicians to examine patients remotely anywhere in the world, at CES 2020. (Elizabeth Page Brumley /Las Vegas Review-Journal) @elipagephoto
CES Flying Taxis
Bell Nexus EX4 and Hyundai SA-1 flying taxi prototypes from CES 2020. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020 attendees rides in autonomous BMWs - VIDEO
BMW is pitching its reconfigured i3 Urban Suite, which holds a single passenger on a lounge-style seat, as the possible future of chauffeured rides at CES 2020. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: Small appliances unveiled in Las Vegas - VIDEO
The small appliances on show at Sands Expo at CES 2020 in Las Vegas include a Keurig cocktail maker, autonomous cooking system, nitrogen coffee ampules and more. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: The scooter that will remind you of Wall-E - VIDEO
Segway unveiled the egg-shaped S-Pod Scooter at CES 2020 that’s a seated version of their original scooter that can reach 24mph. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: Before the floor opens at Sands Expo on Day One - VIDEO
CES 2020 opened its doors at 10 a.m. Tuesday, welcoming more than 170,000 attendees to the annual electronics show. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: A suitcase that follows you, video games to heal you at Pepcom's Digital Experience - VIDEO
Get a glance at Pepcom’s Digital Experience! a showcase of products that will be at this week’s CES convention. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: Impossible Foods Inc. Debuts Impossible Pork - VIDEO
At a pre-CES news conference at Mandalay Bay’s Kumi restaurant Monday night, a company representative announced that the participants were the “first people in the world” to try the new plant-based product, which it provided as samples in the form of Impossible Pork banh mi, char siu buns, dan dan noodles, pork katsu, pork shumai and sweet-sour-and-numbing meatballs.
CES 2020: Impossible Foods debuts Impossible Pork in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Before a packed press conference at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Impossible Foods executives introduced Impossible Pork, its newest product. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: The Future of Transportation - VIDEO
Many automotive companies at CES unveil their plans for the future of transportation including safer driverless cars, safety features and a partnership between Uber and Hyundai. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: What you've missed so far - VIDEO
Catch up on the tech and events presented at CES 2020. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: Samsung debuts 8k TV, MicroLED TV - VIDEO
2020 is set to be a major year for 8k screens, according to Samsung executives. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas resorts welcome dogs to stay
Las Vegas properties are welcoming dogs more than ever. MGM Resorts International announced a new dog-friendly program across all of its Las Vegas properties in December. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Musk 'hopeful' for 2020 completion of underground Las Vegas project - VIDEO
Elon Musk tweeted Friday night that The Boring Company’s underground tunnel project in Las Vegas will be “hopefully fully operational” within the next year. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
World Market Center celebrates topping-off ceremony - VIDEO
Las Vegas elected officials including Councilman Cedric Crear attend topping-off ceremony for the Expo at World Market Center in Las Vegas.
MSG Sphere in Las Vegas will be the largest spherical building in the world - VIDEO
The Madison Square Garden Sphere at The Venetian has now been under construction for about one year and is expected to be completed in 2021. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Aria still thriving after 10 years - VIDEO
The Aria opened on the heels of the Great Recession and managed to survive. It is now known for its art, environmental sustainability and poker. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Opening ceremony of the first Chick-fil-A restaurant inside a casino
Opening ceremony of the first Chick-fil-A restaurant inside a casino at the Golden Nugget on Monday, Dec. 2, 2019. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Fire damages 7 cars at Las Vegas airport parking garage - VIDEO
Firefighters on Saturday morning extinguished a car blaze that damaged six other vehicles in a parking garage at McCarran International Airport. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Changes Everything: Grandma - LVCVA ad
"Grandma" is a new television spot from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority prepared to entice visitors to come during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. (Visit Las Vegas/YouTube)
Vegas Changes Everything: Chaos - LVCVA ad
"Chaos" is a new television spot from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority prepared to entice visitors to come during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. (Visit Las Vegas/YouTube)
New allegations involved Steve, Elaine Wynn - VIDEO
The new allegations were presented Friday in a motion that included a 2018 affidavit, alleging former hairstylist Jorgen Nielsen tried to convince a friend to say Steve Wynn raped her and that she bore his son. The affidavit also included new allegations suggesting Elaine Wynn and Nielson orchestrated the assault scandal. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fitness chain Life Time acquires former Sullivan Square site
Fitness chain Life Time has acquired the former Sullivan Square site in Las Vegas for $14 million. The southwest valley property, across the street from Ikea, is little more than a giant hole in the ground. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas in Primm outlet mall changing its name - VIDEO
Chad Dillow, co-owner of Step Right Up, is building his attraction at Prizm Outlets, which recently changed it name from Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas, in Primm. It will include 3D trick art, ax throwing, escape rooms and carnival-themed games. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
O.J. Simpson files lawsuit against The Cosmopolitan over TMZ story - VIDEO
A lawsuit filed Thursday alleges that The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas defamed O.J. Simpson when hotel employees told TMZ he was kicked out of the casino “for belligerence” in November 2017. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Phil Maloof on selling his Palms Place penthouse.
Phil Maloof sold his 59th-floor penthouse at Palms Place. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bleutech announces Las Vegas land purchase deal
Bleutech Park Properties reached a purchase agreement for 210 acres at Las Vegas Boulevard and Cactus Avenue, project spokesman Tom Letizia announced Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019 at a news conference at the M Resort. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)