Wynn Resorts Incurs Big Fines For Ignoring Misconduct Violations

By Rob McLean, CNN Business

Wynn Resorts has been fined $20 million for its repeated failure to respond properly to sexual misconduct allegations against its founder and former CEO, Steve Wynn.

The Nevada Gaming Commission said Tuesday that the fine, the largest it has ever levied, is part of a settlement with Wynn Resorts (WYNN) in response to a complaint the commission filed against the company last month. Wynn, 77, stepped down a year ago as the head of the global gambling business after an investigation by The Wall Street Journal reported numerous allegations against him, citing dozens of sources.  The billionaire casino mogul denied the accusations of misconduct but said the “avalanche of negative publicity” made it impossible for him to continue as CEO and chairman of the company.

The settlement with the gaming commission is the latest attempt by Wynn Resorts to deal with the fallout from the scandal, which hammered its share price and shook its leadership. The company’s stock has declined 35% since the Journal published its investigation.

The gaming commission’s complaint against Wynn Resorts detailed multiple cases in which senior executives at the company were made aware of allegations by employees of sexual misconduct against Wynn but failed to investigate or address them.

In the settlement with the commission, Wynn Resorts admitted that it “fell short … in perhaps one of the most important areas for an employer — focusing on its employees.”

Wynn executives “have focused on a single man, rather than the company’s greatest asset, its 25,000 employees,” it added.

The signatories of settlement document, which was released by the gaming commission on Tuesday, included Matt Maddox, who replaced Wynn as CEO of the company.

Wynn Resorts emphasized the series of changes it has undertaken since Wynn stepped down, such as overhauling the membership of its board to include three new female directors and introducing improved training for all employees aimed at preventing sexual harassment.

The conclusion of the commission’s review is “an important step forward,” Wynn Resorts said in a statement. “We are pleased that the Nevada Gaming Commission has recognized the company’s transformation and ‘refreshed culture’ over the course of the last twelve months and acknowledged the ‘paradigm shift’ that has occurred within the company,” it added.  Under the settlement, the gaming commission said it won’t seek to revoke the company’s licenses.

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