On 30 April 2019, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MCG) levied a record $US35 million fine on Wynn Resorts, but allowed the company to keep its casino licence. This followed a year-long investigation where the regulator found executives failed to disclose allegations of misconduct.

The fine is the biggest imposed by MGC, or any other US-based casino or gaming regulatory agency. The Nevada Gaming Commission in February levied a $US20 million fine on Wynn Resorts that was the largest imposed at the time.

Wynn Resorts, which owns properties in Nevada and Macau, is set to open Encore Boston Harbor, a 27-floor hotel and casino, in June 2019.

IAGR enews spoke to MGC about the recent news and what the future holds for Boston’s yet to be opened casino.

Additional penalties and conditions

On top of the $35 million fine, the MCG imposed the following penalties and conditions on the company:

  • At Wynn Resorts’ expense, MCG will select an independent monitor to conduct a full review and evaluation of all policies and organisational changes adopted by the Company
  • CEO Matthew Maddox be levied with a $US500,000 fine for his failure to implement an investigation of at least one misconduct complaint he’d been aware of
  • Wynn shall maintain the separation of Chair and CEO for at least the term of the licence (15 years)
  • The Board of Directors shall provide the Commission timely reports of all Directors’ attendance records of both Board and assigned Committee meetings
  • Wynn shall train all new employees on the Preventing Harassment and Discrimination Policy within three months of opening
  • Any civil or criminal complaints or other actions filed in any court or administrative tribunal against a qualifier shall be reported to the MCG immediately upon notice of the action.

The decision comes after the MCG released a more than 200-page investigative report, held three days of public hearings and deliberated for nearly four weeks on what company officials knew and did about the allegations.

Ensuring the integrity of the gaming industry

Regulators in both Massachusetts and Nevada were focused on how long company officials were aware of the allegations and how they responded, rather than the truth behind the claims.

‘Ensuring public confidence in the integrity of the gaming industry and the strict oversight of the gaming establishments through rigorous regulation is our principal objective,’ said MCG Chair Cathy Judd-Stein.

‘Our licensees will be held to the highest standards of compliance, including an obligation to maintain their integrity. The law of Massachusetts affords the Commission significant breadth in our decision making. With that comes an equally significant duty of fairness. We are confident that we have struck the correct balance and met our legal and ethical burdens.’

Monitoring performance against new licence conditions

MGC has just started a competitive bidding process for the independent monitor to review Wynn’s performance in line with the imposed licence conditions.

In its official statement, the MGC said ‘The scope of the review will include the policies and organizational changes adopted by the Company as described during the recent adjudicatory hearing process.’

Elaine Driscoll, Director of Communications at MGC, told IAGR enews, ‘The (independent) monitor will be in place for five years with the opportunity for the licensee to request a reconsideration after three years.’

Well-being and safety of employees a key metric of success

‘Given our findings, it is now in the interest of the Commonwealth that the gaming licensee move forward in establishing and maintaining a successful gaming establishment in Massachusetts,’ said MGC in its decision.

‘One of the key metrics by which we will measure that success will be the overall well-being, safety, and welfare of the employees. A second but equally important metric is the importance of compliance and communication with the regulator. This penalty is designed to guarantee these practices.’

So how will the MGC evaluate the overall health and wellbeing of staff?

Elaine added, ‘The independent monitor will play a role in assessing the overall effectiveness of HR policies and procedures.’

IAGR President, Trude Felde, credits the MGC for taking appropriate steps to ensure safe workplaces within the gaming industry.

‘This decision clearly shows the role of gaming regulators to help foster a safe, secure, compliant and responsible gaming industry for everyone who works within it.’

If you’d like to read the full decision and order from the MGC, click here.