How Steve Wynn covered his tracks

Gaming Commission report indicates money bought silence

THAT’S THE QUESTION, isn’t it?” asked Steve Wynn in an October 2017 deposition.

That was Wynn’s response when he was asked why he paid a manicurist and her husband $7.5 million in 2005 if her allegation that she was raped and impregnated by the gambling mogul was false, as Wynn insisted it was.

“That was 97 days after the opening of the Wynn Las Vegas at a cost of $2.75 billion,” Wynn said. “My name goes up on the sign at the [insistence] of all my colleagues. And along comes this girl who had a turn with me, obviously being advised on what to do. …Anybody who is over 10 years old and knows what goes on in the world knows what happens next. The story gets sensational….The difference between truth and falsity fades into obscurity. The story survives with a life of its own. The damage to reputation is permanent. That’s what I was faced with for having sex with this girl. I was guilty. And she initiated it when I was getting a manicure about 10 yards from here in my office. Bad judgment on my part. All the rest was a contrivance to extort money from me.….As vicious, as rotten as the move was, as scurrilous, as lying – isn’t anybody on earth that can breathe that would ever think I will rape someone. Nuts. So in – in this context, seven and a half million was not a significant number. And I paid it.”

According to a report released Tuesday by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, the woman, identified under the pseudonym of Amy, was one of several woman who worked under Steve Wynn and allegedly had some form of sexual contact with him over the years. The report, drawing on court deposition transcripts and interviews with those familiar with his activities, paint a devastating picture of Wynn’s approach toward women.

Much of the Gaming Commission’s report focuses on who knew what about Steve Wynn’s extra-curricular sexual activities and what they did about it. It’s part of an effort by the state authority to determine whether Wynn Resorts is suitable to retain its Massachusetts casino license and open a $2.6 billion casino in Everett in June.

Wynn is not really the focus of the report. He resigned from his positions as CEO and chairman in February 2018 and sold all his company stock for $2.1 billion, so he no longer falls within the jurisdiction of the commission. His penchant for settlements – at least five are identified in the Gaming Commission’s report – may shield him from any criminal or civil disciplinary action. Yet the Gaming Commission’s report provides the most detailed picture to date of how a casino genius covered his tracks.

Each case was a bit different, but nearly all of them were handled in similar fashion. Wynn’s attorneys would negotiate a financial settlement and the women would agree the sexual contact never happened. Amy, for example, agreed to write a retraction letter in which she denied the rape and impregnation allegations and voluntarily retracted all accusations and claims against Wynn Resorts and its employees.

Two days later she and her husband signed a settlement agreement with a limited liability company called Entity Y, which was set up to conceal Wynn’s involvement. Under the agreement, Amy immediately received $3.2 million and her husband was paid $550,000. For the next five years, Amy was paid $55,555 per month. For the next 10 years, the husband was paid $3,750 a month. All of the money was provided by Steve Wynn.

Wynn said in the October 2017 deposition that he saw no need to inform gaming regulators of the settlement with Amy and her husband, calling it a personal indiscretion and bad judgment, not a gaming compliance issue. “It was a nonevent,” he said. “It was false. It was a lie. Why would I have to – why would I have to prolong a fabrication?”

According to Wynn’s ex-wife, Elaine, he denied even having sex with Amy when she confronted him with rumors she had heard in 2009. “He claims that nothing happened, that the only thing that happened, he was foolish enough to be alone with this manicurist in his office area, getting a manicure with no staff around to observe and be a witness to the nothing that happened,” Elaine Wynn said in an interview with Gaming Commission investigators.

Beth was the pseudonym for a former cocktail server at Wynn Las Vegas, who alleged in 2006 that she had been “wrongfully engaged in a sexual relationship” with Wynn. Like Amy, she agreed to sign a letter of retraction and in return received a settlement that paid $325,000 to her and $325,000 to each of her parents – a total of $975,000.

Wynn years later said he didn’t recall Beth or the settlement with her, although he confirmed paying the $975,000, according to a deposition he gave in April 2018.

Connie, a worker in the cocktail services department at Wynn Las Vegas, sent a demand letter to Wynn in 2008, alleging she had an intimate relationship with him when he worked at the Mirage. Connie apparently broke it off, but she felt she was owed some compensation. After two years of negotiations, she signed a settlement agreement in which she said the two of them had never been involved sexually. In return, she received $700,000, of which $100,000 went to her attorney.

Debbie, the pseudonym for a cocktail server at Wynn Las Vegas, filed a complaint in 2013 with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. During mediation, she alleged she had been raped by Wynn. She told the mediator that Wynn had done the same thing to Connie, but Connie got a car out of it. The matter was eventually settled with Debbie signing a release of all claims against Wynn Resorts in return for $9,000.

From 2014 to 2015, according to the Gaming Commission report, spa attendants at Wynn Las Vegas complained a number of times that Steve Wynn acted inappropriately during massages – disrobing in front of them, exposing his genitals, and talking suggestively. They said he even acted inappropriately when he was joined by his current wife for a couples massage. In several instances, Wynn would tip the spa attendant identified under the pseudonym of Fran $1,000 in cash, according to the report.

In April 2018, after a report in the Wall Street Journal on Wynn’s sexual misconduct and Wynn’s departure from the company, Fran sent a demand letter to him complaining about his behavior and demanding $1 million. According to the Gaming Commission report, Wynn reached a settlement with Fran but the terms have not been released publicly.

The Gaming Commission report did not delve into all of Wynn’s alleged affairs. The report said its research uncovered information that was “largely consistent” with what was reported by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, including sexual misconduct by Wynn in 2005 involving a Wynn Las Vegas cocktail server and flight attendant and sexual harassment involving multiple flight attendants in 2016.

All in all, the Gaming Commission’s investigators talked to 12 current or former employees of firms affiliated with Steve Wynn and one contract employee. Nine of the workers said they were victimized during their employment at Wynn Resorts, two alleged their incidents occurred at previous companies where Wynn worked, and one was a contract massage therapist who worked on Wynn’s yacht.

The one underlying theme in the report is that Wynn didn’t play by the rules everyone else played by. For example, Wynn Resorts instituted a zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment in 2004. Wynn, in his depositions, acknowledged he had never read the policy.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

During the deposition in October 2017, Wynn indicated he knew there was some sort of policy on sexual harassment but hadn’t read it and wasn’t familiar with the details. When he was read the policy, he became quite agitated, arguing that it would subject managers to all sorts of unsubstantiated allegations that could lead to terminations and disciplinary actions.

“If I knew about this before today, it wouldn’t exist in its present form for five minutes,” he said.