Massachusetts gambling regulators agreed Thursday to hold a public hearing on a request that casino mogul Steve Wynn be removed from a license held by the company that bears his name to operate a resort casino under construction near Boston.
A Boston-based attorney for Wynn contended in a letter to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission that his client should no longer be considered part of the $2.4 billion casino project, since Wynn has divested from "all ownership interests" in Wynn Resorts and no longer has any financial or business association with the Las Vegas-based company or its Massachusetts subsidiary.
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Attached to the letter were documents submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, meant to prove Wynn had fully divested and therefore should not be the subject of an ongoing suitability investigation by the commission. Wynn resigned as chairman and chief executive of Wynn Resorts in February after sexual misconduct allegations against him surfaced.
"The commission no longer has jurisdiction over Mr. Wynn — he is a private Nevada citizen unaffiliated with Wynn Resorts LLC or any commission licensee," wrote the lawyer, Brian Kelly.
Wynn no longer planned to cooperate with requests for information from the Massachusetts investigators, the letter added.
Wynn Resorts also asked the five-member commission to remove the name of its founder and the long-time face of the company from the license. No decision was immediately made, but commissioners agreed to a recommendation from executive director Edward Bedrosian to schedule a hearing. It likely will occur within the next three weeks.
Even if Wynn were to be removed from the license, officials stressed it would not interrupt the broader review of Wynn Resorts to determine if the company itself should continue to hold the state's only greater Boston casino license.
"The commission's decision at the hearing will not end the current investigation ... as to allegations of misconduct against Steve Wynn and the handling of those allegations by Wynn Resorts and its officers and directors," Bedrosian said.
Massachusetts launched the review in January soon after The Wall Street Journal detailed sexual misconduct allegations, which Wynn has denied. Regulators said they had not been made aware of a reported $7.5 million settlement with one accuser when they awarded Wynn Resorts the license in 2014.
The commission also recently asked a consultant to examine whether the scandal has impacted the financial stability of the company. Wynn Boston Harbor is scheduled to open in Everett next year.