Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Casino Mogul Spur State Investigation
By David Montero
The Nevada board that regulates gambling announced Tuesday that it was opening an investigation into sweeping claims of sexual misconduct by casino mogul Steve Wynn.
The announcement by the powerful Nevada Gaming Control Board came four days after The Wall Street Journal published a story that chronicled decades of sexual harassment allegations against Wynn.
Becky Harris _ who became chairwoman of the board a week ago and is the first woman to hold that job _ said Friday that the board was reviewing the information about the allegations. Now it is taking the next step.
"After completing our review the Nevada Gaming Control Board is conducting an investigation with regard to the allegations of sexual misconduct involving Steve Wynn," Harris said in a statement Tuesday. "The Nevada Gaming Control Board will conduct its investigation in a thorough and judicious manner."
The board could take a variety of steps once it completes its investigation, including levying heavy fines against Wynn and holding an open or closed hearing to determine whether he should lose his gaming license.
Wynn, 76, has two high-profile properties on the Las Vegas Strip _ Wynn and Encore _ with the former bearing his famous signature as its emblem. He also plans to build West Wynn across the street from those two properties, adding 2,000 to 3,000 rooms to his empire.
Wynn and Encore count more than 4,700 rooms between them and have about 186,000 square feet of casino space.
The allegations sent the stock price of his company tumbling from about $200 a share before the revelations came out to about $171 Tuesday. The Wynn Resorts board of directors has announced that Patricia Mulroy _ a member of the board and former member of the state gaming commission _ would lead an investigation against its chairman.
"The board is deeply committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all of the company's employees and to operating with the highest ethical standards," it said in a statement.
Wynn also resigned as the Republican National Committee's finance chairman.
But he has been defiant about the allegations and in a statement accused his ex-wife, Elaine Wynn, of orchestrating the campaign against him amid a bitter divorce.
"The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous," the statement said. "We find ourselves in a world where people can make allegations, regardless of the truth, and a person is left with the choice of weathering insulting publicity or engaging in multiyear lawsuits. It is deplorable for anyone to find themselves in this situation."
Elaine Wynn's lawyers have said she was not behind The Wall Street Journal report, which the newspaper said was the product of interviews with 150 people.
The Gaming Control Board's investigation could lead to a complaint process that involves the state attorney general. It could also hold a deposition-like process, with witnesses called for a hearing to determine Wynn's fate.
Wynn is also being investigated by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in light of the sexual misconduct allegations. It is meeting Wednesday to discuss Wynn's future, including his company's $2.4-billion Wynn Boston Harbor project, currently under construction.
"The commission is profoundly aware of the gravity of this matter and will proceed with the appropriate sense of urgency and rigor," spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said in a statement.
Wynn is one of the most powerful casino owners in Las Vegas, moving to the city in the late 1960s from the East Coast and renovating the Golden Nugget. Decades later, he built the Mirage and Bellagio before selling Mirage Resorts to MGM Resorts International.
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