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Regulators argue they still have jurisdiction over Steve Wynn

Updated January 4, 2022 - 5:53 pm

An attorney for former casino executive Steve Wynn told Nevada Supreme Court justices this week that state gaming regulators no longer have jurisdiction over the former Wynn Resorts Ltd. chairman and CEO.

In a 40-minute hearing Monday, attorney J. Colby Williams argued that Wynn ended his association with the Nevada Gaming Control Board and Nevada Gaming Commission when he stepped down from his positions with Wynn Resorts on Feb. 6, 2018, and divested himself of all company shares he owned by March 22, 2018.

Wynn left the company after published accusations that he made unwanted sexual advances to female Wynn Resorts employees and sexually assaulted several women. Steve Wynn has denied any improprieties.

The Nevada Gaming Commission fined Wynn Resorts a record $20 million on Feb. 26, 2019, for failing to adequately oversee and act on complaints women took to the company.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission also fined the company $35 million April 30, 2019, after a three-day adjudicatory hearing in Boston. At the time, the company was preparing to open Encore Boston Harbor in Everett.

Since then, the company revamped its board of directors and instituted new procedures for filing complaints that executives are required to investigate. The company also named Matt Maddox CEO after Wynn resigned. Maddox has since announced his plans to leave the company by the end of this month.

The Gaming Control Board filed its complaint against Steve Wynn over his suitability as a gaming licensee on Oct. 14, 2019, a year and a half after he had divested himself from the company.

Prior to that hearing, Wynn’s attorneys tried to negotiate a settlement with regulators in which he would agree not to seek any involvement in the Nevada gaming industry in the future, despite his position that he believed regulators had no jurisdiction over him.

On Monday, the regulators, represented in the hearing by Deputy Attorney General Kiel Ireland, contended that unless they are allowed to maintain jurisdiction over gaming executives, alleged wrongdoers could quit their positions and then later return to the industry.

State regulators are appealing a Nov. 19, 2020, ruling by Clark County District Court Judge Adriana Escobar that found gaming regulators do not have the ability to punish Wynn after his departure from the company.

“Because (Wynn) has no material involvement, directly or indirectly, with a licensed gaming operation, this court finds that respondents have no jurisdiction to impose discipline or fines against” him, Escobar’s ruling said.

Williams reiterated to the high court that regulators shouldn’t be empowered to discipline the former executive.

“It’s our position that Mr. Wynn’s findings of suitability ended when he resigned his position as CEO and director,” he told the justices.

There was no indication when the court would issue a ruling on the case.

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

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