The Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) has dismissed a motion by former gambling mogul Steve Wynn, as he claims the ‘Draconian’ regulators in Nevada have no jurisdiction to fine or ban him from the gambling industry.
The motion to dismiss the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s (NGCB) complaint, filed by the fallen casino mogul’s lawyers sought to challenge the authority of the NGC to ban Wynn on the basis that he no longer holds a gaming license and has removed himself entirely from the industry.
Wynn had resigned as the CEO and chairman of Wynn Resorts and sold his majority shareholding in the company, following the 2018 Wall Street Journal expose which alleged that Wynn sexually harassed and coerced a number of female staff.
However, Wynn has repeatedly denied the allegations.
Nevada Gaming Control Board Complaint
The complaint by the NGCB included five-counts of alleged wrongdoings to justify its authority to revoke Wynn’s findings of suitability.
- Count One – Wynn violated Nevada state regulations that require a person to always be of good character
- Count Two – as a result Wynn can no longer adhere to the guidelines that require a person’s prior activities, reputation, and habits to not negatively impact the public interest of Nevada
- Count Three – Wynn failed to follow his own company policies when he paid a Wynn Las Vegas salon manicurist that he allegedly sexually assaulted $7.5 million (₹534 million). The payment was never disclosed to the company’s board too
- Count Four – Wynn used his power to allege the company’s chief human resources officer not to investigate why he paid a cocktail server $975,000 (₹69.5 million)
- Count Five – from an administrative point of view, Wynn’s failure to respond to an NGCB hearing request is grounds for revocation or suspension of Findings of Suitability
Justifying its reasoning with the contention of the five wrongdoings further, the board indicated that it had found evidence of multiple instances of sexual misconduct by Wynn with subordinate employees, which were against company policies and procedures:
“The Gaming Commission should revoke Mr Wynn’s Findings of Suitability… Mr Wynn has repeatedly violated Nevada’s gaming statutes and regulations, bringing discredit upon the State of Nevada and its gaming industry.”
The board further added:
“He [Wynn] is unsuitable to be associated with a gaming enterprise or the gaming industry as a whole.”
“Zombie Like, Draconian Control” Over An Individual
While the sexual misconduct allegations formed the basis of the disciplinary proceedings against Wynn from the NGCB, they contend that the complaints revolve around an administrative process.
The NGCB placed an ‘administrative hold’ on Wynn’s Findings of Suitability, which they argue warrants their jurisdictional authority.
However, Wynn’s legal counsel, Don Campbell, argues that there is no concept like an ‘administrative hold’ in any regulations or legislation for Nevada gaming:
“Such a draconian concept of lifetime jurisdiction is found nowhere in the statutes or regulations relied upon by the NGCB… It is clear the Nevada legislature neither expressly nor implicitly authorized the Commission and NGCB to discipline persons who no longer have any involvement with gaming licensees.”
The interesting commentary which was raised by Howard Stutz of the CDC Gaming Report noted that this back-and-forth fight over control has surfaced despite the fact that Wynn grabbed his bat and pads, leaving the pitch and never to return.
This is a point of view which has been further raised by Don Campbell during the hearing with NGCB:
“In less than 90 days, he [Wynn] ended all personal involvement and ended a nearly 50-year career in Nevada gaming…[Wynn] has no intention (in Nevada) nor anywhere else in the world to re-enter gaming. None.”
Campbell added that Wynn did not receive any notice of the ‘administrative hold’:
“Is an administrative hold some sort of administrative zombie that comes back and haunts anyone?”
Lengthy Legal Battle Imminent
The argument regarding authority to discipline Wynn is raising comparisons to a testosterone-driven throwing competition.
However, it is clear that there have been no winners so far, and the question of jurisdiction will be drawn out in Court, and presumably, there will be an appeal or two.