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UNLV won’t rule on Steve Wynn honors until after inquiry

Updated February 6, 2018 - 5:57 pm

Representatives of UNLV say they’ll wait until the State Gaming Control Board has completed its investigation of Steve Wynn before determining whether to strip away honors bestowed upon him over the years.

The chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts Ltd., which operates Wynn Las Vegas and Encore on the Las Vegas Strip and two properties in Macau and is building a $2.4 billion hotel casino in Everett, Massachusetts, is the subject of four investigations into allegations that he demanded sexual favors from and assaulted female hotel employees over the last three decades.

Wynn has vehemently denied the allegations, blaming their origin on his ex-wife, Elaine Wynn.

“UNLV will monitor the situation and will wait for the conclusions of the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s investigation,” a spokeswoman for the university said in an email late Monday.

Nevada law says donor contributions from individuals and organizations to university foundations are not required to be publicly disclosed.

Donation won’t be returned

Wynn Resorts was among the corporate sponsors for an industry gaming conference on campus in spring 2016, and the sponsorship money was used to offset the event’s costs. Sponsors were publicly recognized.

Wynn contributed $25,000 toward the sponsorship, and organizers say they won’t return that money to the company.

In addition to the Control Board’s investigation, authorities with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau and a three-member committee of independent Wynn Resorts board members are looking at the allegations separately.

The Control Board is scheduled to meet Wednesday in Carson City in Becky Harris’ meeting as chairwoman. She said Tuesday the public shouldn’t expect an update on the status of the investigation.

A spokeswoman for UltraViolet, a women’s advocacy organization that displayed a banner from a plane in Southern Nevada last week, said the group will fly the same banner starting at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday over the Control Board’s Carson City office. The banner reads, “Wynn is a sexual predator #FireWynn.”

“Steve Wynn should not be allowed to operate a casino in Nevada ever again,” said Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of UltraViolet.

“Wynn is a predator who abused his position of power to sexually coerce his female staff with impunity,” she said. “We are pleased that the Nevada Gaming Control Board has opened an investigation into the alarming sexual abuse allegations against Wynn. We urge the board to be an advocate for women and survivors and the hotel, restaurant, resort and casino workers who are the backbone of Las Vegas.”

Penn, Iowa take action

Last week the University of Pennsylvania announced it would remove Wynn’s name from a commons area on campus and withdraw honorary degrees given to him and comedian and actor Bill Cosby, who also is under scrutiny for sexual misconduct. Wynn received an undergraduate degree in English literature from the university.

The University of Iowa has taken Wynn’s name off the Stephen A. Wynn Institute for Vision Research. Wynn committed $25 million toward research to cure blindness from inherited eye disease. Wynn suffers from retinitis pigmentosa.

At UNLV, there are no buildings or plazas that bear Wynn’s name. However, over the years he has been honored for his business acumen.

In 1999 the Nevada Board of Regents bestowed the Distinguished Nevadan Award to Wynn and his former wife, Elaine.

Thom Reilly, chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education, confirmed that the board would await the outcome of the Control Board investigation before acting on the award.

Wynn, in 2002, also was in the inaugural class of inductees to the Nevada Business Hall of Fame, housed by UNLV’s Lee Business School. The school says “honorees are highly respected individuals who exemplify business achievement and community leadership and all have contributed significantly to the economic growth and prosperity of Nevada.”

Wynn entered the hall with one of his mentors, banker E. Parry Thomas, and Si Redd, one of the pioneers of the slot-machine business.

The Wynn board member heading the independent investigation, Pat Mulroy, was a Nevada Business Hall of Fame inductee in 2010.

Gaming Hall of Fame

Wynn also is enshrined in the Gaming Hall of Fame, sponsored by the American Gaming Association with a website maintained by UNLV’s Center for Gaming Research. He was inducted into that hall in 2006. Elaine Wynn was inducted in 1999.

The American Gaming Association annually solicits nominations from its members, and then its staff and members of the hall’s board of directors confer to make final selections.

Over the years, the hall, now with more than 60 members, has inducted culinary and entertainment leaders who have helped shape the American gaming industry.

See all the Review-Journal’s coverage of the Steve Wynn story.

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

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