The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) on Wednesday, Jan. 31, held a special hearing into the allegations against Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn – a Massachusetts gaming licensee – and said they were not told of the 2005 private settlement, while at the same time urging fairness and speed in the investigation.
The one-hour hearing was unique in that it was one of about three government-level hearings now going on internationally, with others now underway in Nevada and Macau (China). Another is going on privately within the Wynn organizations by a Special Committee of the Board of Directors.
Chair Steve Crosby led off the meeting by saying that the MGC’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) would not rush to judgment or impugn anyone.
“Before we begin, I’d like to reiterate that we have a shared sense of urgency about this serious matter, but careful diligence must be a top priority,” he said. “The stakes are enormous and many lives are involved— from the lives of the women allegedly abused, to the lives of men and women in Everett now building the project, to the senior executives and board members of Wynn Resorts. We will get this right and we will get it right as quickly as we can.”
He finished the meeting by saying he wants a very open investigation so the people know what happened.
“The people of Massachusetts have the right to know what the hell happened here with no punches pulled,” he said. “Having to hold back things ifs something this Commissioner will not look favorably on.”
The MGC announced last Friday after the allegations surfaced that they would initiate an investigation in their IEB division. On Wednesday, the first volley of that investigation was launched.
Somewhat of a revelation was when IEB Director Karen Wells said Wynn Resorts or Steve Wynn never told anyone in 2013 about the $7.5 million settlement associated with the recent allegation of sexual harassment by a Wynn hotel manicurist in Las Vegas.
“I corroborated that information with counsel for Wynn Resorts who confirmed that there was in-fact a settlement and that it was not disclosed to investigators upon advice of counsel,” said Wells. “She also confirmed that the settlement itself was not part of any court action or litigation and that no lawsuit was filed at any time. There were no court documents filed that could have been identified in the course of the investigation. This was a private agreement and steps were taken to keep it from the public domain. The circumstances around this $7.5M settlement and the decision not to disclose it to investigators remain a critical element of this review.”
For the commissioners, there was a sense of seriousness, but also one of attentiveness. No one wanted to engage in something unfair to Wynn or anyone else.
“The single most important thing at this stage is to get control of the facts by figuring them out as quickly as possible,” said Commissioner Lloyd MacDonald. “I urge you to be scrupulously diligent and work with speed, thoroughness and objectivity. That will be key.”
Wells said she had no idea how long the investigation would take as they have just embarked on it.
“It’s hard to give a timeline because once you start conducting interviews, it could lead you in many different directions,” she said.