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GCB preparing for disciplinary hearing against Steve Wynn

Updated September 6, 2022 - 5:58 pm

The Nevada Gaming Control Board on Tuesday confirmed that it is preparing for a disciplinary hearing before the Nevada Gaming Commission against former Wynn Resorts Ltd. CEO Steve Wynn on sexual harassment charges.

Wynn, now a Florida resident, has said that because he is no longer licensed by state gaming regulators and has divested all financial connections with the company he believes that he is no longer subject to its discipline.

“At this point, the board is preparing to recommence the action against Mr. Wynn,” Control Board Chairman Brin Gibson said in a Tuesday email. “The board maintains the Nevada Gaming Commission has full authority to decide the proposed regulatory complaint against Mr. Wynn.”

He added that the action against Wynn is separate from a concluded matter against Wynn Resorts in which the company was fined a record $20 million in connection with a sexual harassment scandal that rocked the company in early 2018.

No date has been set for a hearing.

Five-count complaint

On Oct. 14, 2019, the Control Board issued a five-count complaint accusing Wynn of violating state gaming regulations on the operation of gaming establishments by failing “to exercise discretion and sound judgment to prevent incidents which might reflect on the repute of the state … ”

The five-count complaint stemmed from accusations that Wynn sexually harassed several female Wynn Resorts employees for years. He has never been tried or convicted of harassment and has denied ever harassing or assaulting anyone since the allegations were made public in January 2018 in stories produced by the Review-Journal and the Wall Street Journal.

In December 2019, attorneys for Wynn argued before the Gaming Commission that it no longer had jurisdiction over him because he resigned from the company in February 2018 and divested his holdings a month later. By May, he had moved out of a villa in which he was living at the Wynn Las Vegas resort.

At the December 2019 hearing, the sexual harassment complaint was never heard because Wynn’s attorney, Donald Campbell, brought up the jurisdictional dispute, saying he would take the matter to Clark County District Court. Campbell said he wouldn’t enter settlement talks about the sexual harassment charges until he was satisfied that the jurisdictional issue was adjudicated.

“I think it’s generally the nature of the beast that government bodies don’t like to admit that they don’t have powers that they want to exercise, and as much as they might want to exercise powers here, we have every degree of confidence that when we get to the Nevada Supreme Court on this, they are going to agree with us on this,” Campbell said at the time. “There is just too much law and precedence that establishes that they don’t have the jurisdiction to do what they have done here.”

The case went to Clark County District Court where Judge Adriana Escobar, in November 2020, ruled in favor of Wynn. The Gaming Control Board immediately appealed the case to the Nevada Supreme Court, which determined Wynn could not appeal a commission decision until after the matter was adjudicated in a hearing.

Procedure explained

Anthony Cabot, a distinguished fellow in gaming law at UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law, said procedurally the Nevada Supreme Court found that Steve Wynn’s case could not move forward without a commission action occurring. Once the commission acts, Wynn could appeal any decision to District Court.

“The Wynn Resorts Ltd. jurisdictional litigation has concluded,” Gibson said. “As required by the Nevada Supreme Court, the District Court has remanded the action back to the Nevada Gaming Control Board and the Nevada Gaming Commission for further proceedings.”

Wynn, through a Las Vegas representative, did not respond to a request for comment on the development.

The Control Board decision follows a lawsuit filed last week by a Wynn Resorts massage therapist alleging that the company continues to create a hostile work environment and retaliate against her, years after Steve Wynn forced her to act as an “on-call sexual servant.”

Attorneys Robert Eglet, Tracy Eglet and Danielle Miller filed the lawsuit in Clark County District Court on behalf of Brenna Schrader, who also is a named plaintiff in an ongoing federal class-action lawsuit filed in 2019 against Steve Wynn and Wynn Resorts Ltd.

The lawsuit thoroughly details the sexual assault allegations brought forth in Schrader’s 2019 complaint and mentions additional allegations, including that Steve Wynn “trafficked” Schrader to a “VIP guest” who sexually assaulted her multiple times from 2016 through 2018.

Resort’s response

Wynn Resorts spokesman Michael Weaver said the company took several actions in response to the 2018 incidents.

“The company reconstituted its board of directors, who in turn worked with a refreshed executive team to establish new human resources policies and training, and a world-class corporate governance program. The company’s actions helped to create the culture of respect and inclusion that the company enjoys today. We are proud of our past work in this area and work every day to continue it,” Weaver said in an email.

Gibson said a settlement is possible with Wynn.

“Settlement is always a possibility in disciplinary matters, but one that appears less likely in the present matter each day,” he said. “The board is currently preparing for a full hearing before the NGC.”

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

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