Shares of Wynn Resorts tumbled by more than 10 percent Friday after the Wall Street Journal published a damning report that detailed allegations of sexual misconduct against the company’s owner, Steve Wynn.
The Las Vegas casino mogul, who built the Mirage, Treasure Island and Bellagio hotels, allegedly pressured some employees to perform sex acts, according the Journal’s report.
The newspaper, which interviewed more than 150 people who have worked at Wynn’s casinos or who had been told about the alleged behavior, reported that Wynn paid a former manicurist at his resort a $7.5 million settlement after she claimed that he pressured her to have sex with him. The report also details allegations that Wynn pressured massage therapists to perform sex acts in exchange for $1,000 tips. Some spa employees allegedly booked fictitious appointments or hid in the bathroom to avoid contact with the executive.
Wynn, 75, denied the allegations and said they sprung from an ongoing divorce battle with his ex-wife.
The article was published shortly after noon on Friday, and investors responded immediately.
By the time markets closed, Wynn Resorts had fallen more than 10 percent, to $180.29, its biggest drop since July.
Soon thereafter, the law firm Levi & Korsinsky announced that it had opened an investigation into “possible breaches of fiduciary duty” by Wynn Resorts.
The gaming company could not be immediately reached for comment.
But in a statement, Wynn vehemently denied the allegations reported by the Journal, saying: “The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous. 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 multiyear lawsuits. It is deplorable for anyone to find themselves in this situation.”
He added, “I remain focused on Wynn Resorts, our employees and our shareholders and will not be distracted from those efforts.”
The accusations against Wynn come as the nation reckons with reports of sexual assault and harassment, with dozens of men falling from positions of power in entertainment, business, the media and politics as allegations come to light. Wynn is the first CEO and founder of a major publicly held company to be faced with similar accusations.
As the Journal reported: “Dozens of powerful men have faced consequences in recent months after publicly aired accusations of sexual improprieties. Those against Mr. Wynn are the first in this wave to center on the CEO and founder of a major publicly held company, in this case one operating in a tightly regulated industry.”
The newspaper added:
Mr. Wynn owns nearly 12% of Wynn Resorts, a stake worth $2.4 billion, and is considered integral to its success. His signature is the company logo. In a recent securities filing citing possible risks to the business, the company said, “If we lose the services of Mr. Wynn, or if he is unable to devote sufficient attention to our operations for any other reason, our business may be significantly impaired.”
As reported by The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe, Wynn was once a business rival of Donald Trump and for years used his wealth and influence to the political benefit of Republicans. He was chosen to head the Republican National Committee’s fundraising operations last year after supporting Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Wynn would not say Friday whether he will relinquish his role at the RNC.
This post has been updated.