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Vegas casino king Steve Wynn accused of 'pattern of sexual misconduct' in Wall Street Journal report

by Corky Siemaszko /  / Updated 
Image: Steve Wynn speaks at a conference in Beverly Hills
Steve Wynn, chairman and chief executive officer of Wynn Resorts Ltd., speaks at a conference in Beverly Hills, California, on May 3, 2017.Patrick T. Fallon / Bloomberg via Getty Images

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For the women who worked for casino mogul Steve Wynn, it was a roll of the dice whether they would be sexually harassed when they were summoned to his private office, according to a new report Friday.

For decades, the legendary Las Vegas businessman used his power over their livelihoods to pressure the manicurists and massage therapists for sex, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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“Former employees said their awareness of Mr. Wynn’s power in Las Vegas, combined with the knowledge that the jobs they held were among the best-paying available there, added up to a feeling of dependence and intimidation when Mr. Wynn made requests of them,” the newspaper reported. “Some said that feeling was heightened at times by the presence in a confined office space of one or more of his German shepherds, trained to respond to commands in German.”

Wynn, a prolific donor to the Republican Party whom President Donald Trump has called “a great friend,” hotly denied the allegations.

“The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous,” he said in a statement provided to NBC News. “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."

In a separate statement, Wynn Resorts said the company requires all workers to undergo anti-harassment training and has a hotline “that any employee can use anonymously, without fear of retaliation."

"Since the inception of the company, not one complaint was made to that hotline regarding Mr. Wynn," the company's statement read.

Wynn claimed the Journal article was the "continued work of my ex-wife Elaine Wynn, with whom I am involved in a terrible and nasty lawsuit in which she is seeking a revised settlement."

Related: Since Weinstein, here’s a growing list of men accused of sexual misconduct

“Elaine has explicitly threatened to slander and destroy me and I am surprised that the media in allowing itself to be used to advance this agenda,” Wynn said in the statement.

The Journal, however, said in the story that the paper based its reporting on interviews with 150 current and former Wynn employees and that “none reached out to the Journal on their own.”

What allegedly happened to the salon workers was part of a “decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Wynn,” the paper reported.

But one alleged incident the paper cited, which involved a married manicurist who claims Wynn “forced her to have sex” with him not long after he opened his flagship Wynn Las Vegas casino in 2005, was referenced “in broad terms” in Elaine Wynn’s lawsuit against her husband.

“Mr. Wynn later paid the manicurist a $7.5 million settlement,” the paper reported, citing “people familiar with the matter.”

Reps for Elaine Wynn said she declined to comment on the story, but NBC News did obtain the heavily-redacted court documents cited by the Journal — which point to allegations of "personal misconduct" ” but do not state whether those allegations were of a sexual nature.

A former Wynn massage therapist told the paper her boss insisted she masturbate him during their hour-long sessions and that afterward he would hand her $1,000 in cash, which was “the same amount as before the sexual activity began.”

Wynn also allegedly would wear extremely small shorts that exposed his genitals when he got pedicures and subjected women to lewd and suggestive banter, according to the paper.

Image: The Wynn Las Vegas hotel and casino
The Wynn Las Vegas hotel and casino in February 2017.John Locher / AP

Wynn, who turns 76 on Saturday, made his mark on Sin City by building the Bellagio, Encore, Mirage, Treasure Island and Wynn casinos and turning them into opulent resorts that feature fine dining and on site spas where gamblers can be pampered.

But Wynn is the latest in the growing list of powerful man to be accused of inappropriate behavior with woman, the current wave of which began with a New York Times expose of Hollywood honcho Harvey Weinstein and has morphed into a #MeToo movement that has swept up some of the most biggest names in politics, sports and show business.

Yet few of the accused men have the access to the Trump White House that Wynn does. After the election, he was named the Republican National Committee’s finance chairman. And the RNC was among the recipients of donations from Wynn, Federal Election Commission records show.

So were GOP politicians like Sens. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Tim Scott and new Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the records show. But Wynn hedged his political bets by donating to several presidential campaigns, including that of Chris Christie, Jeb Bush — even Hillary Clinton, the records show.

Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who serves as deputy chairman of the RNC's finance committee, told NBC News: "Steve is a truly great man who has been the driving force behind the RNC finance committee." NBC News has reached out to the RNC for comment.

The Journal report had an immediate impact on Wynn’s bottom line, which sent shares in Wynn Resorts plummeting, closing 10 percent down on Friday.

The article also caused waves in Boston, where Wynn in developing a Boston Harbor Casino, set to open in 2019. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission will now conduct a review.

"The Commission is now aware of and is taking very seriously the troubling allegations detailed in the Wall Street Journal article," the MGC said in a statement to CNBC. "The suitability and integrity of our gaming licensees is of the utmost importance, and ensuring that suitability is an active and ongoing process. Consequently, the MGC’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau will conduct a regulatory review of this matter to determine the appropriate next steps."

The Board of Directors of Wynn Resorts is also conducting a review, and said it met Friday and formed a special committee of the board "comprised solely of independent directors" to investigate the allegations in the Wall Street Journal article.

"The Board is deeply committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all of the Company’s employees and to operating with the highest ethical standards," the board said in a statement.

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