Doubts Arise about Nevada’s Proposed Tougher Sexual Harassment Policies

Nevada gambling regulators are now planning to enact tougher sexual harassment policies after Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn was implicated in sexual harassment and assault that have spanned over three decades. Experts, however, expressed doubts about the effectiveness of the proposed rules which include providing regular compliance training for employees.

Last week, the Nevada Gaming Control Board warned gambling operators in the state that they would soon introduce regulations or “minimum internal control standards” to address sexual harassment. In a notification to the nearly 3,000 gambling licensees in the state, board Chairwoman Becky Harris included a 15-point checklist for operators to strengthen their anti-sexual harassment policies. There was also a sample complaint form that would be made available to all casino employees.

The plans for new regulations and standards come in the wake of the scandal surrounding Steve Wynn who allegedly harassed sexually female employees in his own casinos. In January, the Wall Street Journal reported that a large number of women accuse Wynn of sexual harassment and abuse. According to the article, a court case against him led to a $7.5 million settlement. The billionaire has denied all accusations but was forced to resign last month as chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts.

While the proposed anti-sexual harassment policies contain some of the most basic measures to address the increasingly debated issue, they may not be as effective as initially intended, according to several experts who talked to the Associated Press. According to Maryland attorney Joyce Smithey, the regulator is giving gambling operators too much freedom when it comes to implementing the new, tougher regulations. Licensees would not be willing to report complaints and settlements in order to “avoid more scrutiny”, Smithey says to AP. In addition, most large gambling operators most probably already meet the regulator’s criteria.

New Rules to Combat Sexual Harassment

Haris’ notification includes possible amendments to the current rules which have been developed after talks with industry stakeholders and experts. Violators could be disciplined through fines and license suspensions, she warned. According to Regulation 5 of the Nevada Gaming Control Board policy, operators who breach the standards may be penalized. This rule is designed to protect public confidence and trust in the gaming industry and it may be used against Wynn and his company, some experts say.

The checklist includes a point according to which, in their policies, companies need to have an “unequivocal statement” that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. Gambling operators also need to provide regular training for all employees and to report all complaints and charges to the Board, as well as to all state or federal agencies charged with regulating or penalizing violations of this kind.

Meanwhile, investigations into Wynn’s sexual misconduct are ongoing in Nevada, Massachusetts, and Macau. After Wynn stepped down as CEO, the company’s board hired Matt Maddox for the position. The new CEO launched several initiatives in a bid to clear Wynn Resorts’ name. One of them includes a paid-time-off program for hourly employees to participate in company community programs during work hours, while another offers ten new scholarships, which will be given to qualifying Wynn Las Vegas employees.

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