In Bid To Keep Mass. Casino License, Wynn Highlights Company-Wide Changes | Connecticut Public Radio

In Bid To Keep Mass. Casino License, Wynn Highlights Company-Wide Changes

Apr 4, 2019
Originally published on April 4, 2019 8:19 am

Fighting to retain its Boston-area casino license, Wynn Resorts executives on Wednesday detailed changes in the company's governance and policies, adjustments made in the wake of a litany of sexual misconduct allegations against former founder and CEO Steve Wynn.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission launched day two of its adjudicatory hearing to weigh whether Wynn Resorts remains a suitable casino operator despite the company's "significant" and "repetitive" failures to apply its policies and procedures around sexual misconduct to Steve Wynn.

The proceedings began with a presentation from new Wynn Resorts board chairman Philip Satre. He joined the board as vice chairman in August and was elevated to chairman late in 2018. 

Wynn Resorts does not contest the findings of the commission's Investigations and Enforcement Bureau but instead will argue that the company has changed dramatically for the better since Steve Wynn left and will pledge a better relationship with regulators going forward.

"I think it is the paramount relationship, we don't have a business unless we have a license," Satre said. "It is our obligation as a company to be as transparent, as fulsome in our communications and accountable to the regulatory agencies."

Satre told the commission that any employee who was aware of allegations of sexual assault against Steve Wynn and did not investigate or report those allegations is no longer with the company. He said the board of directors is "substantially reconstituted" and that it established a compliance committee meant to be independent of the company's internal politics.

The roles of CEO and president, once held jointly by Steve Wynn, were separated when Steve Wynn was fully divested. Satre said that split was "an extremely important decision for this company because it introduced a check and a balance that had not been present before."

Whether the five commissioners think that the steps Wynn Resorts has taken in the last year are sufficient for the company to maintain its suitability is an open question.

"Remedial measures are certainly important, but they do not erase the past and as the Nevada Gaming Commission's recent historic regulatory fine demonstrates, this is a very serious issue of corporate governance which requires careful consideration," said chief Gaming Commission investigator Karen Wells Tuesday morning.

Wynn Resorts bears the burden of proof and must show the commission "by clear and convincing evidence both its affirmative qualification for licensure and the absence of any disqualification for licensure," per state gaming regulations.

The Gaming Commission has taken the actions of former executives into account in past suitability reviews, as was the case in 2013 when it ruled Ourway Realty LLC unsuitable to operate the state's lone slots parlor. 

This report was originally published by State House News Service.

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