Calls about Steve Wynn prompt online tip page for investigations

Updated February 12, 2018 - 4:24 pm

Spurred by an overwhelming number of telephone calls regarding the Steve Wynn investigation, the state Gaming Control Board on Monday set up a portal on its website to receive information on active board investigations.

The portal, on the Control Board’s website, was activated just before 2 p.m. Monday. It’s accessible at http://gaming.nv.gov/.

Control Board Chairwoman Becky Harris said Monday that while the system is not specific to any particular licensee, its establishment was spurred by phone calls to board offices regarding regulators’ investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against the former Wynn Resorts chairman and CEO.

Wynn stepped down from those positions last Tuesday night, but regulators in Nevada, Massachusetts and Macau have said they intend to continue their respective inquiries.

Communications tool

“It’s a communications tool to allow the public to better communicate with the board regarding any public investigation that the board announces,” Harris said in a telephone interview Monday.

Harris said a link to submit a voluntary confidential statement is accessible through the “what’s new” section of the Control Board’s web page.

“It’s overdue,” Harris said. “I think that we’ve just had some days when our phone lines have been very, very busy and this is a way to help manage that so the board can continue to conduct its day-to-day business.”

Harris said the board didn’t track how many telephone calls it received since Tuesday when the board affirmed that it would continue its investigation even after Wynn had resigned. But she said it was “enough that it’s been disruptive to the day-to-day business of the board.”

The system is similar to a program that has been used by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to gather information on its licensees for nearly two years.

‘Fair Deal’

Massachusetts’ “Fair Deal” tip program, established in March 2016, enables the public to report “any potential concerns or personal knowledge of unethical or noncompliant gaming activity,” according to Karen Wells, director of the commission’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau.

Fair Deal enables the public to send confidential information through a web portal, by email or by telephone.

Massachusetts regulators outlined the goals of their investigation in a Jan. 31 public meeting.

“The IEB investigatory plan going forward, mindful that our role is not to conduct a criminal investigation into sexual assault, is to continue on a regulatory review of this matter which will consist of four components,” Wells told commissioners at that meeting.

Much of the focus will be on Wynn executives failing to disclose a $7.5 million settlement between Steve Wynn and an alleged harassment victim referenced in a legal dispute involving stock shares in a divorce settlement between him and his former wife, Elaine Wynn. Last week, Wynn announced that he was giving up that legal fight.

The four areas under scrutiny by Massachusetts regulators include:

— A review of the suitability of individual licensees, including Wynn and other qualifiers potentially involved in not disclosing the settlement when the company was approved to build Wynn Boston Harbor in Everett in 2013.

— A review of any corporate action or lack of action involving the alleged misconduct. That will involve the questions of who knew what, when and whether anybody did anything about it.

— Monitoring and reporting back to the commission on the corporate response to the information that is now in the public domain. That means regulators will be watching how the company’s board of directors and the executive team under newly appointed CEO Matt Maddox handle and react to the allegations.

— A review of how the current situation potentially impacts the financial stability of the company.

Nevada regulators handle the investigatory process differently than those in Massachusetts. The Control Board doesn’t comment on ongoing investigations; in Massachusetts, not only did the board devote an entire 45-minute meeting explaining the process and what investigators would seek, they provided a short update at a meeting a week later.

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

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