It’s the story that’s rocked Las Vegas to its core. Dozens of women have accused visionary casino mogul Steve Wynn of sexual misconduct.
An explosive story in the Wall Street Journal has confirmed what Las Vegas insiders have known for decades, and now the fortunes of Steve Wynn and Wynn Resorts are uncertain.
According to the Wall Street Journal, 150 people were contacted and dozens have come forward to share experiences ranging from awkward to outrageous to downright shocking involving Steve Wynn. The article sheds light on an alleged pattern of predatory interactions with women, many of whom were Wynn’s subordinates.
Or as Las Vegas keno runners refer to it: Tuesday.
The Wall Street Journal story also answers a question many Vegas observers have wondered about: How much did Steve Wynn pay to settle an allegation by a manicurist who claimed he coerced into having sex? The answer: $7.5 million.
Steve Wynn has dismissed the allegations of sexual impropriety, deeming the dozens and dozens of stories by dozens and dozens of women as “preposterous.”
We can’t really do justice when it comes to the quantity or creepiness of the allegations, so check them out if you haven’t already.
The Wall Street Journal revelations came as a surprise to precisely zero people familiar with Steve Wynn and the untold number of executives and members of the media who turned a blind eye to his behavior through the years.
The Wall Street Journal story, which has received international media coverage, has had some immediate fallout.
On the day the story was released, Wynn Resorts lost 10% of its market value, which translates into a mind-boggling $2 billion. In a day.
Steve Wynn has also resigned as the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.
There have been calls for Wynn to be investigated or removed as Chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts.
It’s been reported the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has opened a probe into Wynn Resorts.
So, what does all this mean for Steve Wynn, Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas?
Well, it most certainly means Steve Wynn’s impressive legacy has been tarnished for good. No matter what successes he’s had, there will always be an asterisk next to his name. Think Woody Allen, but with a better art collection.
It’s difficult to see a scenario where Steve Wynn doesn’t have to step down from running Wynn Resorts. The evidence of bad, and possibly illegal, behavior is overwhelming.
Wynn Resorts is in for some tough times. Steve Wynn is personally intertwined with the company. He is, in essence, the brand. His leadership and vision and sensibility have built the company into both the world’s most-admired casino company and the most profitable on The Strip.
While some investors in Wynn Resorts stock may see the dramatic drop in value as an opportunity to buy, we’re pretty sure this is just the beginning of the pain. We’ve seen previously unreported allegations by Wynn’s former wife, Elaine Wynn, and while the upcoming controversy is likely to be less sexy than the current firestorm, it’s going to be another huge blow to investors and Wynn’s company.
As the days go by, it seems likely Steve Wynn’s new reality is going to sink in. At the moment, he’s fully committed to the victim narrative (Wynn is blaming his ex-wife for the accusations—talk about preposterous), but that will change as pressure mounts.
The sex scandal playbook requires that, at some point, Steve Wynn publicly apologize and “take full responsibility” for his actions.
Odds are he’ll step down, making it clear he’s only doing it to avoid hardships for the stockholders and his beloved employees, followed by some well-crafted blah, blah, blah.
There’s a chance Wynn’s gaming license could be revoked. (A license holder must someone of “good character, honesty and integrity,” among other things.)
We’d also place a small wager on Wynn saying he’s entering into treatment for a “sex addiction.” It’s not like the wheel’s being re-invented here.
Oh, and there has to be a class action lawsuit in the offing. Wynn’s pockets are just too deep (his estimated worth is $3.5 billion) for the bottom-feeders to resist.
We also suspect revelations about the misbehavior of high-placed casino executives has just begun. As with Harvey Weinstein, the floodgates have been opened, and it seems inevitable other women will now find the courage to speak out about a culture of exploitation that’s been pervasive in Las Vegas since the day it was conceived.
All bets are off on the hush money paid to victims through the years in Las Vegas, and it’s about time these serial perpetrators receive their comeuppance. (Rumor has it a number of casino executives fled town after the Wall Street Journal story broke, to “reconnect with family” and, presumably, pray.)
Who are the executives likely to be caught up in the Las Vegas edition of the #MeToo movement? Ask any dealer, bartender or cocktail waitress. They all know the names.
The good news is, of course, the day of reckoning for Steve Wynn is a rallying cry for women who have endured unwanted sexual advances and abhorrent behavior in casinos and elsewhere. They no longer have to feel intimidated or powerless. If Steve Wynn, the self-proclaimed “most powerful man in Nevada,” can be held accountable for his sexual misdeeds, anyone can.
That said, this blog counts itself among those who are rattled and dismayed by the Steve Wynn revelations because Steve Wynn, in large part, made Las Vegas what it is, and we really, really love Las Vegas.
We love that Wynn Resorts has planned so many new, beautiful things for us to enjoy, and we’d hate to see those plans derailed because Steve Wynn can’t keep his towel on or grasp that “no” means “no.”
The Steve Wynn sexual misbehavior scandal has set in motion forces that will change Las Vegas forever, and ultimately for the better. As long as you’re not Steve Wynn.