Steve Wynn Exodus Improves US Online Gambling’s Long-Term Outlook

Updated: February 8th, 2018 by Haley Hintze

This week’s departure of Steve Wynn from his role as the chairman of Wynn Resorts Ltd. marks a bit of a change in several industry circles. One of the tertiary benefits from seeing this career groper forced from the gambling scene is that it likely improves slightly the long-term outlook of regulated online-gambling interests.

Let’s start with Wynn’s implosion. Via exposés — pun definitely intended there, if you’ve heard about what’s been alleged, researched and largely verified — in the Wall Street Journal and the Las Vegas Sun, Wynn has been shown to be a serial abuser and molester of women. Most of those women have been Wynn employees, which afforded Wynn the opportunity to force himself upon them or have them belatedly perform “requested” sexual services for him for as much as two decades.

The semen hit the massage towel for good when the WSJ uncovered evidence of a $75 million settlement quietly paid to one of Wynn’s victimized employees, via a private and secretive corporate “Entity Y” set up for just for that purpose. Yet that incident is one of but dozens researched and reported on by the papers, who finally got some of the victims to talk about their experiences with this serial molester.

As a result, regulatory officials in Nevada, Massachusetts and Macau have all opened up their investigations into Wynn’s long-term behavior. The fact that many criminal workplace behavior is alleged threatens Wynn’s ability to remain licensed in all those jurisdictions, which is why he was so quick to resign following the breaking of the stories. Wynn Resorts can move on; Steve Wynn as a controlling executive is finished.

The Massachusetts angle is of extra interest. A couple of years back, Wynn Resorts won the rights to one of the state’s new and limited casino licenses, and that massive Boston-area casino project is only about half completed. Steve Wynn’s forced exodus might keep the state from yanking the casino’s license even before the place opens for business. But that’s only if Wynn himself is really gone from the corporation.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Massachusetts is among the next handful of US states loosely considering online-gambling legalization. However, Wynn is against it personally, and as Wynn Resorts’ chairman and controlling owner, he’s prevented his company from entering that market in the poker-only state of Nevada. It’s a lot easier for Massachusetts to get behind online gambling now that they know the the owner of the state’s largest casino (when and if it opens) won’t be declining to participate.

It doesn’t stop there. Wynn’s support for the anti-online-gambling rhetoric championed by rival Las Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson is part of why the American Gambling Association has been so neutered on online-gambling matters. Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. is the AGA’s largest benefactor, and Wynn’s Wynn Resorts might well rank number two in that regard. With Wynn out of the scene, that balance as power might slowly shift, just as Wynn’s successors at his company might grow more receptive over time to online gambling in general.

Speaking of number two — there we go with the puns again — Steve Wynn was widely regarded as Las Vegas’s second most odious casino owner behind, naturally, Adelson. But with Wynn tacking on a couple of decades’ worth of workplace sexual abuse to his resume, he may well rival Adelson for the top spot.

Wynn wasn’t exactly willing to step aside, as this quote from his resignation announcement illustrates:

“In the last couple of weeks, I have found myself the focus of an avalanche of negative publicity. As I have reflected upon the environment this has created — one in which a rush to judgment takes precedence over everything else, including the facts — I have reached the conclusion I cannot continue to be effective in my current roles. Therefore, effective immediately, I have decided to step down as CEO and chairman of the board of Wynn Resorts, a company I founded and that I love.”

No mention of that secretive $7.5 million settlement, of course. Wynn has also decried the allegations that he assaulted some of his victims as ludicrous, though that depends on a very limited and physical definition of “assault”. There’s little doubt that Wynn used his power and wealth as his victims’ employer to coerce them into sexual acts against their will. Sexual assault is about power and control, and Wynn was most certainly doing that.

Quotes from insider the Wynn empire have depicted him as blaming his former wife, Elaine, for the exposure of all the bad deeds that have come to light. Elaine Wynn and Steve Wynn have been engaged in bitter separation and ownership battles for years, and this episode has brought that feud to the fore as well. And who knows? Maybe Wynn has some women and control issues deep down, contributing to the current mess. In the final analysis, that matters not at all: Wynn needs to go, permanently, for all the evil he’s done.

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