Gaming won’t rush Wynn probe

Gaming won’t rush Wynn probe

April 10, 2018 3:00 AM
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Casinos across Nevada may be feeling the pressures created by the Gaming Control Board’s review of the circumstances that explain Steve Wynn’s departure from the resort company that bears his name.

Corporate compliance is not one of the sexy subjects that gets a lot of attention as people take looks at the gaming industry, but it is getting attention now from gaming regulators examining the reaction of the Wynn Resorts board of directors to some of Wynn’s alleged activities as chairman and CEO.

The search for answers will not be hurried as the Gaming Control Board follows the trail of circumstances that will tell them what they want to know.

Are corporate compliance requirements all they should be? That’s one of the issues already spawning a lot of discussions among top officials at other companies. What this will lead to in terms of possible additional rules is anybody’s guess. But there is an understandable desire to get out ahead of the issue and not get run over by a rush to judgement.

Two compliance officers at companies other than Wynn Resorts say they have had the conversations with colleagues that underscore the heightened awareness of compliance issues getting attention as a result of all that has transpired at the Wynn properties. The board at any company is expected to stay on top of issues whatever they might be. But did that occur at Wynn?

That’s why Wynn’s alleged agreement to settle a sexual harassment complain by a dancer for $7.5 million is getting the attention it has received. Did the WR directors sign off on this payment knowing what it was? Are there facts that may still be unknown? The search for answers that may lead to further requirements from regulators has sources familiar with Board procedures shrugging their shoulders in response to questions about how long the search for answers may take.

“It will take whatever it takes,” said the compliance at another company. “No one wants to miss anything at this point.”

Wynn’s high profile personalty means he may be the best known person in the global casino industry. Wynn Resorts is a public company. Stockholders include investment funds and individuals ready to sue at the drop of a hat. That’s why the publicity coming from stories such as the Wall Street Journal piece that accused Wynn of sexual harassment of female employees over years caused the Control Board to open an investigation.

If Nevada is going to defend itself as the “gold standard” for gaming regulation the last thing it needs is bad publicity in a major business publication widely read by the investment community.

A seasoned observer of the industry speculated that instead of a rush toward a conclusion the Control Board might continue its search for answers to all the most obvious questions and give the company a chance to determine its own future. One director has already quit and a second has said he will not seek re-election.

Also, the former Wynn Resorts CEO and chairman may already have moved beyond the long reach of the Control Board. He has sold all his stock. The only reminder of his association with the company he founded about 15 years ago is his name, which is still on the marquee.

When will that come down, or will it? It’s another of the obvious questions waiting for an answer.

Ocean Resort to be part of Hyatt system

Atlantic City’s Revel will become the Ocean Resort and when the hotel and casino re-opens it will be part of the Hyatt system.

This affiliation will solve a problem that was a drag on efforts to market the property since its 2011 opening when there was some hope it would help revive business throughout the area.

Other major casino properties had reservation systems that helped bring business to town, but the Revel as a stand-alone property had no such help for bringing customers in the front door.