$20 Million Dollars and Counting…The Spectacular Downfall of Steve Wynn
News stories have abounded over the past year regarding a multitude of serious allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against Steve Wynn, the high-flying former CEO of Wynn Resorts.
To quote a report by National Public Radio, “At the beginning of January 2018, Wynn was a 75-year-old billionaire and chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts who was working on developing a $2.6 billion resort in Massachusetts. By the beginning of February 2018, Wynn would be unemployed and facing public shame and an uncertain future.” The next year, for Mr. Wynn, would not get any easier. In January of 2019, the Nevada Gaming Commission reported the results of a thorough investigation that the Commission had conducted into the numerous allegations made against Mr. Wynn, both looking into the specific accusations made against him and what, if anything, those in management positions at Wynn Resorts knew about the multiple accusations of sexual harassment and sexual assault and what, if anything, they did about it. The Commission members, at the conclusion of their investigation, issued a record-breaking financial judgment against both Mr. Wynn and executives at Wynn Resorts. Citing the Wynn organization’s repeated “turning of a blind eye” to the years of accusations against Mr. Wynn, the Nevada Gaming Commission levied an unprecedented $20 million dollar fine against Wynn Resorts.
The $20 million fine levied upon Wynn Resorts is roughly four times greater than any fine ever approved by Nevada Gaming Commissioners. Wynn Resorts acknowledged in the settlement with the Nevada Gaming Commission that several former board members and executives at Wynn Resorts knew about but had failed to investigate numerous complaints made against Mr. Wynn. The Nevada Gaming Commission was not the only party that had a strong reaction regarding Mr. Wynn’s repeated misconduct, and Wynn Resorts’ mishandling of it. In December, a Wynn Resorts stockholder filed a lawsuit stating that his stock value plummeted because the officials at Wynn Resorts did not properly investigate the numerous allegations made against Mr. Wynn, and that the explosive news of the allegations hurt Wynn Resorts’ overall corporate reputation and profitability. Additionally, Wynn Resorts’ previously-proposed gambling venue in Boston, a $2.6 billion dollar project, is currently stalled while the Massachusetts Gaming Commission considers whether Wynn Resorts can even maintain its gaming license in Massachusetts, due to the claims against Mr. Wynn and Wynn Resorts’ handling of said allegations.
Wynn Resorts released a statement regarding the accusations against Mr. Wynn and the judgment made by the Nevada Gaming Commission. That statement reads, in part: “The company’s initial response was driven by Mr. Wynn’s adamant denial of all allegations. (There was) a short-sighted focus on initially defending Mr. Wynn, rather than reassuring employees of the company’s commitment to a safe and respectful work environment.”
The Triangle Takeaway:
Allegations of misconduct require a swift, consistent and thoughtful response in the form of a full and thorough investigation, from the moment that the allegations are learned of. To do anything less can, as with Wynn Resorts, turn into a mistake that can cost a company millions of dollars. Triangle’s team of expert investigators is ready to kick into action immediately after a complaint is received, helping to both ensure a safe workplace for employees, and also helping to reduce management’s risk exposure.