Steve Wynn, the founder and former chairman of Wynn Resorts, made a quick departure from the company several years ago amid allegations of sexual misconduct. This indirectly prevented gaming regulators from maintaining jurisdiction over his actions while he was at the helm of the company. A fight has been brewing since then, and it now might be up to the Nevada Supreme Court to determine who’s right.
Wynn, Nevada Regulators Head to Court
This week, Steve Wynn’s attorney told the Nevada Supreme Court that state gaming regulators have no jurisdiction over the disgraced executive. J. Colby Williams argued Monday that Wynn resigned any involvement with the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) and the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) on February 6, 2018. That was when he gave up all positions he held with Wynn Resorts.
Wynn quit the company following allegations that he made unwelcome sexual advances to Wynn Resorts female employees and sexually assaulted multiple women. He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoings.
Wynn Resorts was fined a record $20,000,000 by the Nevada Gaming Commission on February 26, 2019, for failing to supervise and respond to complaints made by women to the company.
After a three-day hearing in Boston, MA, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission also fined the operator $35 million.
On October 14, 2019, the NGCB filed a complaint against Steve Wynn regarding his suitability to be a gaming licensee, 16 months after Wynn had resigned from the company.
Wynn’s lawyers tried to negotiate with regulators a settlement in which he would not seek any involvement in Nevada’s gaming industry in the future. This was despite the fact that Wynn believed that regulators did not have jurisdiction over him. In November 2020, a lower court would agree.
Gaming Regulators Cry Foul
Monday’s hearing saw Deputy Attorney General Kiel Ireland representing the regulators. He argued that they must be allowed to have jurisdiction over gaming executives so that any wrongdoers cannot quit their positions and return later to the industry.
The state regulators appealed the November 2020 ruling by Clark County District Judge Adriana Escobar, which found that gaming regulators don’t have the power to punish Wynn following his departure.
Escobar’s ruling stated that Wynn has “no material involvement, either directly or indirectly, in a licensed gaming operation.”
Wynn’s attorney reiterated before the High Court that former executives should not be disciplined by regulators. He stated to the justices that “It’s our position that Mr. Wynn’s findings of suitability ended when he resigned his position as CEO and director.”
Supreme Court Justice Lidia Stiglich doesn’t seem convinced that this is the way the situation should be handled. She asked Williams, “Are you telling us that when he leaves the company, he will no longer … be held accountable personally, for any acts that occurred during that time period?”
Williams responded, “For purposes of gaming, disciplinary actions. Yes, that is my position.”
The court did not indicate when it would rule on the case.