Wynn Resorts Responds to Nevada Gaming Commission’s $20M Penalty

Wynn Resorts issued a statement in response to the record $20 million fine levied against the company by the Nevada Gaming Commission. The company was fined for failing to investigate sexual misconduct claims against founder and former CEO and chairman Steve Wynn before he stepped down a year ago. Wynn has maintained his innocence.

"This brings to a conclusion the Nevada gaming regulators' review of who in the company was aware of allegations against the company's founder and former CEO," the statement reads. "We are pleased that the Nevada Gaming Commission has recognized the company's transformation and 'refreshed culture' over the course of the last 12 months and acknowledged the 'paradigm shift' that has occurred within the company. The completion of the review by Nevada regulators is an important step forward, and we deeply appreciate the trust and confidence they have placed in the new leadership of Wynn Resorts to 'grow and prosper.'"

According to the statement, when the allegations became public a year ago, the company executed a separation agreement with Steve Wynn that paid him no severance and arranged for all of his Wynn Resorts shares to be liquidated. The company then separated the roles of CEO and chairman of the board; in short order, Matt Maddox was appointed CEO, and in November 2018, Philip G. Satre was elected chairman of the board.

Wynn Resorts also refreshed its board of directors; the median tenure of the eight directors is now less than two years, and three of the directors are women, all newly elected as of last spring. Any employee who was aware of allegations of sexual assault against Steve Wynn and who did not investigate it or report it is no longer with the company, according to the statement.

As part of the cultural shift, three women have been named to prominent executive positions in the company. Gaming regulatory-matters expert Ellen Whittemore is now general counsel; hospitality and human resources veteran Marilyn Spiegel is now president of Wynn Las Vegas and human resources executive Rose Huddleston took on the newly created position of senior vice president of human resources, North America.

Maddox and the new executive team have also taken a number of additional steps to improve the workplace environment at Wynn Resorts. Among them, the company launched enhanced workplace compliance and prevention of sexual harassment training for all employees, delivered by a third party; created a Women's Leadership Council to promote workplace equality and educate and inspire employees; commissioned pay- and promotion-equity studies; initiated a new paid parental-leave program that provides six weeks of paid time off to new parents; rolled out new diversity, inclusion and unconscious-bias training for all employees, run by a third party; launched the Great Place to Work survey and program, which measures employee engagement against Fortune's "100 Best Companies to Work For," and created a new annual Wynn Employee Foundation scholarship program, which has already awarded 10 $7,500 college scholarships to employees and their dependents.

In the past year, Wynn Resorts has arranged for the sale of all of Steve Wynn's stock in the company and resolved litigation filed in 2012 by former board member Elaine Wynn. The company also settled six years of litigation with Universal Entertainment for $2.4 billion.

With respect to Wynn Resorts' East Coast development, Encore Boston Harbor, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has voted to grant commissioners access to investigative information related to a suitability review of Wynn Resorts. Steve Wynn sued to prevent release of the report, but the vote now clears the way to move forward with public review of the findings.