By REGINA GARCIA CANO
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Casino mogul Steve Wynn is under investigation after sexual misconduct allegations were leveled against him, Nevada gambling regulators announced Tuesday.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that a number of women said they were harassed or assaulted by Wynn, and that one case led to a $7.5 million settlement with a manicurist.
Wynn has vehemently denied the allegations, which he attributed to a campaign led by his ex-wife.
The state Gaming Control Board said in a statement that it opened the investigation after completing a review, but it did not provide any further details. Its chairwoman, Becky Harris, declined to answer questions from The Associated Press seeking additional information.
“The Nevada Gaming Control Board will conduct its investigation in a thorough and judicious manner,” according to the statement from the three-member panel.
State gambling regulations provide grounds for disciplinary action if any activity from the licensed operator, its agents or employees is deemed “inimical to the public health, safety, morals, good order and general welfare” of Nevada residents or discrediting of the state and its gambling industry.
Regulators could potentially levy fines against the company, place conditions on its license or even revoke it.
At the same time, the board of directors of Wynn Resorts has said a committee of independent directors would investigate the allegations. It will be headed by Patricia Mulroy, a Wynn Resorts board member and a former member of the Nevada Gaming Commission.
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, who appoints the members of the board, on Tuesday told The Associated Press he was “disturbed, saddened and deeply troubled” by the allegations.
“There is no place and there should be zero tolerance for sexual harassment in the workplace,” he said. “As governor, I will continue to work to ensure that all Nevadans work in a safe and respectful environment. Anything less is unacceptable.”
Since 2013, Wynn has contributed nearly $2.4 million to GOP candidates and party organizations around the country, including Sandoval and 2017 special election winners. Some Republicans in Congress, including Nevada’s Dean Heller, have already announced they are donating contributions they received from Wynn to charity.
Wynn resigned Saturday as finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.
The union representing more than 50,000 casino workers in Las Vegas, including 5,500 housekeepers, cooks, bartenders and food and cocktail servers at Wynn’s two casino-hotels, plans to strengthen the language against sexual harassment in contracts when it begins negotiations next month with the majority of operators, but not Wynn Resorts. The contracts of the company’s unionized workers are not up for negotiations yet.
“We are deeply disturbed by these accusations against Steve Wynn and support a full and fair investigation regarding these allegations,” Geoconda Argüello-Kline, the Culinary Union secretary-treasurer, said in a statement. The organization will also ask “panic buttons” for every housekeeper.
Gambling regulators in Massachusetts, where Wynn’s company is building a roughly $2 billion casino just outside Boston, are also looking into the allegations.
In addition, the China arm of Wynn’s casino empire has said it will comply with Macau regulators as they seek more information. Macau, a former Portuguese colony near Hong Kong, is the world’s most lucrative casino market and the main source of profits for Wynn and other foreign gambling companies.