Settlement paves way for release of Wynn report

Casino mogul succeeds in excluding some information

THE MASSACHUSETTS GAMING COMMISSION released a lightly redacted legal settlement with Steve Wynn on Thursday that paves the way for the unveiling of a long-awaited report on the suitability of Wynn Resorts’ Boston-area casino license.

The commission also released heavily redacted minutes from the commission’s recent closed-door executive sessions on the legal negotiations, which delayed release of the report for close to six months and revolved around a dispute with Steve Wynn over documents he considered protected by attorney-client privilege.

Members of the Gaming Commission say they are confident they have all the information they need to make a suitability determination, but the documents released on Thursday shed little light on what exactly is being excluded from the report under the terms of the settlement.

Minutes from a February 20 closed-door meeting of the commission quote one of the agency’s investigators as saying the settlement negotiations were successful in “preserving the most critical pieces” of information and describing a 2014 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission matter as a “crucial piece of evidence.”

It’s unclear what the 2014 commission matter was about, but a report filed in January by the Nevada Gaming Commission indicated Steve Wynn sexually harassed three employees who provided massages to him in 2014. The Nevada report, which provides almost no details about those incidents  and many others, resulted in a $20 million fine for Wynn Resorts.

The settlement negotiated between Steve Wynn and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission gives Karen Wells, the director of the agency’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau (IEB), the ability to use certain documents that she believes are “significant” to the investigation while barring her from using other materials.

The settlement indicates Wells can use some information obtained from Steve Wynn’s personal attorneys — Frank Schreck, James Pisanelli, and Scott Abbott – as well as select portions of an investigative report prepared by attorneys hired by the board of Wynn Resorts. That investigation yielded what has come to be known as the Gibson Dunn report.

“Wells may also advise the Commission and state in the IEB Report that the Gibson Dunn Report reflects interviews of certain witnesses who were not interviewed by the IEB, some of whom recounted additional allegations similar in nature to those made by witnesses who were interviewed by the IEB,” the settlement agreement says. The agreement says Wells may advise the commission that the Gibson Dunn investigators found some people who were in management at the time of the report “were aware of those allegations but failed to report or investigate them,” according to the agreement.

Some of the redactions to the settlement are almost comical if read literally. In one section, the commission agreed not to make reference to something that was redacted in the document, “except for references to pregnancy, which is a condition that has been widely reported in the press and in the complaint filed by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.”

The Massachusetts commission’s investigation stemmed from a January 2018 report by the Wall Street Journal claiming that Wynn, who was then chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts, had engaged in a pattern of sexual misconduct, including the rape of a manicurist to whom he later paid a $7.5 million settlement. The resulting scandal significantly tarnished the reputation of a man who was once one of the world’s premier casino magnates and a political donor who was finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Meet the Author

Andy Metzger

Reporter, CommonWealth magazine

About Andy Metzger

Andy Metzger joined CommonWealth Magazine as a reporter in January 2019. He has covered news in Massachusetts since 2007. For more than six years starting in May 2012 he wrote about state politics and government for the State House News Service.  At the News Service, he followed three criminal trials from opening statements to verdicts, tracked bills through the flumes and eddies of the Legislature, and sounded out the governor’s point of view on a host of issues – from the proposed Olympics bid to federal politics.

Before that, Metzger worked at the Chelmsford Independent, The Arlington Advocate, the Somerville Journal and the Cambridge Chronicle, weekly community newspapers that cover an array of local topics. Metzger graduated from UMass Boston in 2006. In addition to his written journalism, Metzger produced a work of illustrated journalism about Gov. Charlie Baker’s record regarding the MBTA. He lives in Somerville and commutes mainly by bicycle.

About Andy Metzger

Andy Metzger joined CommonWealth Magazine as a reporter in January 2019. He has covered news in Massachusetts since 2007. For more than six years starting in May 2012 he wrote about state politics and government for the State House News Service.  At the News Service, he followed three criminal trials from opening statements to verdicts, tracked bills through the flumes and eddies of the Legislature, and sounded out the governor’s point of view on a host of issues – from the proposed Olympics bid to federal politics.

Before that, Metzger worked at the Chelmsford Independent, The Arlington Advocate, the Somerville Journal and the Cambridge Chronicle, weekly community newspapers that cover an array of local topics. Metzger graduated from UMass Boston in 2006. In addition to his written journalism, Metzger produced a work of illustrated journalism about Gov. Charlie Baker’s record regarding the MBTA. He lives in Somerville and commutes mainly by bicycle.

Wynn resigned from the casino empire he built, and the Gaming Commission began investigating who at the company knew about the allegations against Wynn, what steps were taken in response to that information, and whether the company remains suitable for the Boston area casino license it won in September 2014. Wynn Resorts has nearly completed construction of a $2.6 billion resort hotel and casino on the banks of the Mystic River in Everett, but the company now needs to go through another suitability review by the Gaming Commission.

Gaming Commission officials said they plan to give the report to commissioners this week, who will read it and then schedule an adjudicatory hearing. The report will be released to the public at the time of the hearing.

Attorneys for Steve Wynn did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the settlement on Thursday.