Everett, MA– The Encore Boston Harbor casino is scheduled to open in June, so it’s a good thing that the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has agreed to let operator Wynn Resorts keep its gaming license. The casino operator was facing the potential loss of its license after an investigation by the state gaming commission concluded earlier this month that Wynn’s executive leadership failed to take action despite being aware of sexual misconduct allegations against founder and former company CEO Steve Wynn. (Steve Wynn denies the allegations, saying that his relationships with employees were consensual.)
Following a three day hearing in the first week of April, the commission has determined this week that Wynn is “suitable” to operate a casino in Massachusetts. However, for its failure to address claims of sexual harassment, and for its lack of transparency during the initial license evaluation, Wynn Resorts has been fined $35 million. Wynn Resorts CEO Matthew Maddox has also been fined $500,000 for his “clear failure” to investigate at least one instance of reported sexual misconduct. (The commission determined that Maddox did not directly cover up for Steve Wynn, but that he should have gone further to investigate a misconduct claim that he was made aware of.)
In its 54-page decision, the commission reached the conclusion that “the corporate culture of the founder-led organization led to disparate treatment of the CEO in ways that left the most vulnerable at grave risk. While the company has made great strides in altering that system, this commission remains concerned by the past failures and deficiencies.”
Regarding the decision to allow Wynn Resorts to retain its license, the Boston Globe highlighted the commission’s opinion that while “there was a lack of substantial evidence to disrupt the licensee’s suitability status, commissioners were profoundly disturbed by ‘repeated systemic failures and pervasive culture of non-disclosure . . .’ ”
Last month, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission released a report concluding that executive leadership at Wynn Resorts was aware of accusations of sexual misconduct against company founder Steve Wynn, and that Wynn Resorts attempted to conceal this information during their initial license application.
The Commission’s report said that Wynn Resorts disregarded company policies in their handling of those allegations against Mr. Wynn, and that “in some instances, particular Company executives...were part of affirmative efforts to conceal allegations against Mr. Wynn that came to their attention.”
Wynn Resorts has stated that they do not contest the conclusions of the report, but that the company has undergone a transformation over the past year in light of these investigations. The board of directors has new members, including three women, while the executives who covered up the allegations against Steve Wynn have been fired. New sexual harassment policies have been created. However, at the hearing in April, CEO Maddox, embarrassingly, could not name any of these policies.
According to the project’s director of construction, Peter Campot, the Everett resort is about 96% completed. Wynn Resorts has spent over $2 billion on the project. When the casino opens, it will employ almost 6,000 people.