Wynn Fined $35M, Keeps Casino License
By Jonathan Ng
Wynn Resorts has been hit with a record $35 million fine but will keep its license, clearing the way for Wynn’s $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor casino in Everett to open as planned in less than two months.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission also ruled Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox will be fined $500,000 and must hire an executive coach.
The Everett gambling mecca has already filled 3,500 jobs, company spokesman Michael Weaver told the Herald. The June 23 opening date remains on track, he added.
“Wynn Resorts received a copy of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s decision on suitability ... we are in the process of reviewing that decision and considering the full range of our next steps. We will not have further comment until we have thoroughly reviewed and considered the MGC’s decision,” Weaver said.
The whopping fine is twofold, the commission stated: to penalize the company for “systemic failures” of some executives and board members over sexual misconduct accusations and to deter future wrongdoing.
The five-member commission accused Wynn Resorts of not appreciating “the value” of the Boston-area license and that the success or failure of the company will be based on the “overall wellbeing, safety, and welfare of the employees.”
“The size of the fine is commensurate with the scope of the violations, and designed to be sizeable enough to have a meaningful impact,” commissioners wrote in the 54-page decision. They added it was time to “move forward” and open the casino.
Commission Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein said in a statement Wynn will be held to the “highest standards of compliance, including an obligation to maintain their integrity.”
She added that the panel, set to hold a public meeting at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the commission’s office on Federal Street, is “confident that we have struck the correct balance and met our legal and ethical burdens.”
Wynn Resorts -- which already owns casinos in Nevada and Macau -- won the sole Greater Boston casino license in September 2014 and began construction of its gambling mecca along the Mystic River in Everett two years later.
The commission launched an investigation in the days following a January 2018 article in The Wall Street Journal detailing allegations that Steve Wynn had engaged in a decadeslong pattern of sexual misconduct. Steve Wynn, who stepped down as CEO and board chairman in February 2018 and later sold his holdings in his namesake company, has denied the allegations.
The commission’s decision comes months after gambling regulators in Nevada allowed Wynn Resorts to keep its licenses in the state, but imposed a record $20 million fine against the company for “turning a blind eye” to sexual harassment allegations.
The company had $6.7 billion in operating revenues last year and made $803 million in profits, according to an annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Earlier this month, the commission released its 199-page Investigations and Enforcement Bureau report in conjunction with three days of public hearings, where Wynn Resorts’ top brass attempted to convince regulators that the company has been completely transformed after Steve Wynn’s ouster.
Investigators concluded that a limited group of executives and staff, with the help of outside attorneys, disregarded company policies when it came to handling sexual misconduct allegations against Steve Wynn involving employees.
“Their efforts at secrecy made it exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, for gaming regulators to detect this potentially derogatory information through typical regulatory means,” the report said.
During the hearing, Loretta Lillios, the commission’s deputy director and IEB chief enforcement counsel, said, “The casino license is a privilege, not a right. What happened at the company matters. It matters to the women who have been directly affected by the allegations that gave rise to this hearing.”
Maddox told regulators, “What I’m hopeful of is that our actions going forward will allow you to begin to rebuild trust in us. Because the events that happened in the past certainly shook us to the core, and I apologize that we’re here today talking about it and to take responsibility for it.”
Attorneys say the company’s “acceptance of responsibility and regret for past failures does not render the organization unsuitable today,” according to the filing.