Las Vegas mogul Steve Wynn has been accused of a decades-long pattern of sexual harassment and abuse toward workers at his casinos, according to an investigation by The Wall Street Journal.
Dozens of current and former employees at Wynn’s gambling establishments told the Journal they had experienced or witnessed chronic abuse by the billionaire, who was named finance chairman for the Republican National Convention last year.
The allegations range from lewd comments and inappropriate touching to soliciting sex acts from women who worked as manicurists and massage therapists at Wynn’s Las Vegas casinos.
One former employee at Wynn Las Vegas said the mogul pressured her into having unwanted sex with him after she gave him a manicure in 2005. Wynn later agreed to pay the woman a $7.5 million settlement after she filed a report.
“The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous,” Wynn said in a statement shared with HuffPost. “We find ourselves in a world where people can make allegations, regardless of the truth, and a person is left with the choice of weathering insulting publicity or engaging in multi-year lawsuits. It is deplorable for anyone to find themselves in this situation.”
Wynn, who turns 76 on Saturday, went on to blame the allegations on his ex-wife, Elaine Wynn, who is suing him to lift restrictions preventing her from selling her stock in Wynn Resorts Limited.
At one time a rival of fellow casino businessman Donald Trump, Wynn was appointed to head the RNC’s finance committee in January 2017. He has supported both the Democratic and Republican parties with financial contributions over the years. But Wynn threw his support behind the latter during the 2016 election cycle, donating some $833,000 to Republican joint fundraising, according to Forbes.
The RNC did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the allegations against Wynn. A spokesperson for Wynn Resorts declined to comment on whether the businessman intends to step down from his role with the RNC.
In a statement to HuffPost, the Wynn Resorts representative said the company is “committed to operating with the highest ethical standards and maintaining a safe and respectful culture.”
The spokesperson also noted that the company requires employees to receive annual anti-harassment training, and that it offers a hotline for employees to submit harassment claims anonymously. “Since the inception of the company, not one complaint was made to that hotline regarding Mr. Wynn,” the representative said.
Current and former employees who spoke with the Journal said they were nervous about coming forward due to Wynn’s influence in the casino industry. Wynn is worth over $3.5 billion, by Forbes’ estimate. He owns two sprawling Las Vegas casinos ― the Wynn and Encore resorts ― as well as two other complexes in Macau. Another $2.4 billion Wynn casino is in construction in the Boston area.
His power and influence, like those of other prominent men who have been accused of recurrent sexual abuse, may have led him to feel invincible in his own domain.
Current and former employees told the Journal that Wynn would frequently walk around in short shorts with no underwear, exposing his genitals when he sat to receive a pedicure. He would proposition female employees in his private office and even allegedly asked a former executive to get him the phone numbers of casino cocktail waitresses.
“Everybody was petrified,” said Jorgen Nielsen, a former artistic director at the resort’s on-site salon, who told the Journal that female employees would hide in bathrooms and back closets when they heard Wynn was approaching.
One former employee who Wynn allegedly harassed told the Journal she tried to laugh off his advances.
“I would say, ‘Oh Mr. Wynn,’” she recounted. “I was just trying to get on with my job.”
This article has been updated with remarks from a Wynn Resorts representative.