Wynn suitability review ‘aggressively continues’

  • Massachusetts Gaming Commission executive director Ed Bedrosian prepared to speak with reporters Wednesday after telling commissioners that an investigation into Wynn Resorts will “aggressively” continue despite Steve Wynn’s resignation. shns photo

State House News Service
Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Steve Wynn’s resignation as chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts raises new questions for investigators revisiting whether the company is suitable to build a casino in Everett, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission executive director said Wednesday.

Wynn stepped down Tuesday night, less than two weeks after a Wall Street Journal story detailed an alleged “decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct” by the casino mogul, including claims he had pressured employees to perform sex acts.

After the report, the commission launched a regulatory review to determine if Wynn and others involved in the company would still pass the strict suitability standards outlined in the state’s gaming law.

Executive director Ed Bedrosian said Wynn’s said investigators must now examine matters including Wynn’s continued stock ownership, management and control influence and the brand and financial impact.

“These are issues that will need to be considered,” Bedrosian said during a meeting at the commission’s downtown Boston office. “I’m telling you that our investigation aggressively continues and our expectation of cooperation on behalf of our licensees is very high given the gravity of these issues.”

The commission’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau is “working even as we speak” to get answers to those and other new questions, Bedrosian said, and will consider Wynn’s resignation as part of their analysis. The review will look at “any corporate action or lack thereof contemporaneous with the alleged misconduct.”

Last week, Karen Wells, the head of the investigations bureau, told the commission she had confirmed that Steve Wynn paid a private $7.5 million settlement to a manicurist to resolve a sexual harassment allegation that was not previously disclosed.

Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby, who called in to the meeting from a family vacation, asked Bedrosian if Wynn’s replacements at his namesake company – new CEO Matt Maddox and Boone Wayson as non-executive chairman of the board – had any knowledge of the settlement. Bedrosian said he could not answer because “that would certainly seem to be part of the ongoing investigation.”

“A central question is, what did the board of directors and staff know and when did they know it, about the settlement and the associated allegations,” Crosby said. “That’s a critical point for us and the public of Massachusetts to know ASAP.”

The commission has taken the actions of past executives into account in past suitability reviews. In August 2013, when it deemed Ourway Realty LLC unsuitable for the state’s one slots-only casino license, it cited a “a number of practices” engaged in by former Ourway head Gary Piontkowski “that were deeply troubling,” specifically noting his personal cash withdrawals from the track’s money room.