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Macau

Macau gaming watchdog ‘concerned’ over sexual misconduct allegations facing casino mogul Steve Wynn

Authorities warn that rules governing eligibility to run a casino in city will be strictly enforced, as gaming licences come under microscope

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 January, 2018, 9:05am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 January, 2018, 10:24am

Gaming regulators in Macau have expressed concern over sexual misconduct allegations facing US casino mogul Steve Wynn and warned that rules governing eligibility to operate a casino in the city would be strictly enforced.

The intervention by Macau – where Wynn’s global operation makes most of its money – is the first by gaming watchdogs in the city since accusations of sexual misconduct emerged in the United States late last week.

It comes as the process to renew highly lucrative casino operating licences in the world’s richest gaming destination enters a crucial phase.

After describing as “preposterous” allegations reported by The Wall Street Journal last Friday that he had engaged in sexual harassment on multiple occasions over a number of years, Wynn, 76, stepped down as Republican National Committee finance chairman in the US while shares in the company he heads suffered their biggest drop in more than a year.

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Now the fallout has reached Macau, where officials from the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau met with Wynn Macau management on Monday before issuing a statement expressing concern.

“The Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau expresses concerns over reports some days ago that Steve Wynn, chairman and chief executive of Wynn Resorts (Macau) might have been involved in inappropriate behaviours in the US. The bureau had a meeting with the Wynn Resorts (Macau) management today to learn more about this,” the statement said.

“The bureau reiterates that the Macau SAR is concerned about the eligibility of the casino gaming concessionaires’ major shareholders and directors and the principal employees in casinos, and the requirements will be strictly enforced,” it added.

All of the allegations made against Wynn originated in the US. Neither gaming officials in Macau nor Wynn Macau have responded to questions about whether similar complaints had been made in the gaming hub.

The controversy comes as licences to operate casinos come under the microscope and up for renewal for the first time since the end of a 40-year monopoly concession run by casino tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun.

Reports that Wynn engaged in a decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct with dozens of employees – including an accusation that he forced a manicurist to have sex with him – have been strenuously denied by the gaming tycoon. “The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous,” Wynn said in a statement.

He accused his ex-wife, Elaine Wynn, with whom he is currently in a bitter legal battle, of “instigating” the accusations. The two co-founded Wynn Resorts in 2002 and have been locked in lawsuits for years over divorce arrangements.

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Wynn Macau generates about 70 per cent of its parent company Wynn Resorts’ revenue. Wynn is the founder, chairman and chief executive of Wynn Resorts and also a prominent Republican Party donor and fundraiser.

Wynn Resorts in the US said it had formed a special committee to investigate the allegations, and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission said over the weekend that it would review the US$2 billion Wynn Boston Harbour project in light of the allegations.

The commission said in a statement it “is now aware of and is taking very seriously the troubling allegations detailed in the Wall Street Journal article”.

Wynn is worth an estimated US$3.5 billion, according to Forbes, with a turnover of HK$1.2 billion.