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Massachusetts Gaming Commission Imposes $35M Fine But Will Let Wynn Resorts Keep License For $2.6B Boston Casino

After more than a year of uncertainty amid an investigation into its founder’s alleged sexual misconduct, Wynn Resorts will be fined but ultimately hold onto the license for its 3M SF casino weeks away from opening just outside Boston.

Encore Boston Harbor rendering

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission issued its 54-page decision Tuesday night regarding the suitability of Wynn Resorts to retain the license for the $2.6B Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, Massachusetts. The MGC levied a $35M fine against Wynn Resorts and an additional $500K fine for Wynn Resorts CEO Matthew Maddox. Maddox took over after ex-CEO and founder Steve Wynn stepped down following a report in early 2018 detailing decades of sexual harassment and multimillion-dollar settlements with former employees. 

The ruling by the five-member commission essentially green lights the casino company to open the resort as planned on June 23.

“Ensuring public confidence in the integrity of the gaming industry and the strict oversight of the gaming establishments through rigorous regulation is our principal objective,” MGC Chair Cathy Judd-Stein said in a prepared statement. “Our licensees will be held to the highest standards of compliance, including an obligation to maintain their integrity. The law of Massachusetts affords the Commission significant breadth in our decision making. With that comes an equally significant duty of fairness. We are confident that we have struck the correct balance and met our legal and ethical burdens.”

The decision caps the yearlong investigation into how much Wynn Resorts executives knew of founder Steve Wynn’s alleged sexual misconduct. The investigation also considered how the company handled those allegations and reports of other inappropriate behavior. 

The commission considered the findings of a comprehensive Investigations and Enforcement Bureau report as well as the testimony and evidence presented during a three-day adjudicatory hearing in early April.

Former Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn

While the commission did not find evidence of Wynn Resorts providing false or misleading information when it was being vetted in 2013 for its suitability to win a Massachusetts casino license, it did find instances where the company failed to properly investigate and notify the MGC of alleged bad behavior. The MGC levied the fines and license conditions due to that poor handling. 

The MGC imposed the following conditions on the gaming company to be able to retain its Greater Boston license:

  • A $35M fine on Wynn Resorts.
  • Wynn Resorts has to keep the duties of chair and CEO of the company separated for at least 15 years (the same term as its Greater Boston casino license).
  • The MGC will select an independent monitor, at Wynn Resorts’ expense, to fully review and evaluate all policies and organizational changes adopted by the gaming company as part of the investigation.
  • The Wynn Resorts board of directors will provide the MGC with regular reports on directors and their attendance at board and assigned committee meetings.
  • Wynn Resorts will train all new employees at Encore Boston Harbor on the company’s harassment and discrimination prevention policy within three months of the casino opening.
  • Any civil or criminal complaints filed in court “or administrative tribunal against a qualifier” need to be reported immediately to the MGC.
  • The MGC will fine Maddox $500K, and the Wynn Resorts board of directors will engage an executive coach and “any additional necessary resources” to coach Maddox on areas like leadership development, effective and appropriate communication, enhanced sensitivity awareness to human resources issues and team building. 

When Wynn Resorts faced a similar investigation in Nevada, the Nevada Gaming Commission ultimately decided to fine the company $20M, the highest fine ever assessed by the regulatory body. 

A spokesperson for Wynn Resorts was not immediately available to comment to Bisnow following the MGC’s decision. 

“Given our findings, it is now in the interest of the Commonwealth that the gaming licensee move forward in establishing and maintaining a successful gaming establishment in Massachusetts,” the MGC decision states. “One of the key metrics by which we will measure that success will be the overall well-being, safety, and welfare of the employees. A second but equally important metric is the importance of compliance and communication with the regulator.  This penalty is designed to guarantee these practices.”