Gaming Commission approves rules meant to bolster employee protections against harassment, discrimination

The Gaming Commission unanimously approved a regulation amendment Thursday that aims to provide industry employees with enhanced protections against workplace harassment and discrimination, finalizing a process that began earlier this year.

The new rules require licensed gaming establishments and other gaming-related businesses with 15 or more employees to adopt and implement written policies and procedures “prohibiting workplace discrimination or harassment of a person based on the person’s race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, or national original, including, without limiation, sexual harassment.”

Public workshops were held during the crafting of the amendment. Earlier this month, the three-person Gaming Control Board voted to recommend the sweeping changes, which make harassment and discrimination activites grounds for disciplinary action.

Gaming Control Board Chairwoman Sandra Douglass Morgan, who spearheaded the change, called the amendment necessary to ensure Nevada remains the “gold standard” for gaming regulation. A previous effort led by her predecessor and focused on sexual harassment fizzled without any action.

Both discussions began in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against casino mogul Steve Wynn that rocked the industry in early 2017. The scandal led to more introspection within the gaming community about how to prevent such situations and protect workers.

The Gaming Commission levied a record-setting $20 million fine against Wynn Resorts in February to settle a complaint that stemmed from the company’s failure to investigate allegations against the Wynn. 

The deliberations Thursday before the Gaming Commission’s vote largely echoed that of the Gaming Control Board. Commission members commended the broad scope of the amendment and agreed that it was a necessary addition to the regulatory landscape.

Commission Chairman Tony Alamo said he considers the end product a reflection of the culture regulators want to see within the gaming industry.

“I see this with a fresh eye,” he said, referencing the earlier draft that never went anywhere. “I see this with a different work product, and I took it for the value of what it is. I think it just encompasses more than, again, just titling it sexual harassment. It’s workplace harassment.”

The provision of the amendment that adds language addressing workplace harassment and discrimination, which is subject to disciplinary action, is effective immediately. Other provisions pertaining to compliance review, reporting systems and written policies won’t become effective until March 2020.