Gaming Control Board recommends regulation change addressing workplace harassment and discrimination

More than a year and a half after sexual misconduct accusations against former casino mogul Steve Wynn rocked the industry, the Gaming Control Board on Wednesday took a step toward strengthening the state’s stance against workplace discrimination and harassment.

The three-person board, which oversees the daily regulation and administration of the Nevada Gaming Control Act, voted unanimously to recommend a sweeping regulation amendment that makes such activities grounds for disciplinary action. It now heads to the Gaming Commission for consideration.

If approved by the Gaming Commission, the amendment would 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 origin, including, without limitation, sexual harsassment.”

Gaming Control Board Chairwoman Sandra Douglass Morgan said the regulation amendment would ensure Nevada remains the “gold standard” for gaming regulation while protecting the half a million industry employees.

“This is well overdue,” she said before the board vote Wednesday. “… We will continue to lead the way and ensure that it’s clear in our regulations that we hold gaming licensees to the high standards outlined in our state’s public policy concerning gaming and that its continued growth and success is dependent on public confidence and trust.”

In an interview with The Nevada Independent earlier this week, Morgan said most companies probably already have such policies if they’re complying with state and federal law. The amended regulation, though, clarifies the board’s stance and regulatory power, she said.

“It’s just simply time that something like this would be included in the (regulations),” Morgan said.

Gaming Control Board members Terry Johnson and Philip Katsaros echoed her thoughts and pledged their support.

“This seems to be nothing more than an extension of something that should have been in there a long time ago,” Katsaros said. 

The board began considering a change to the Gaming Commission’s Regulation 5 that would address sexual harassment in May 2018, roughly three months after the Wall Street Journal published its story outlining accusations against Wynn. The scandal led to Wynn’s resignation as chairman and chief executive officer of his namesake gaming company. 

That particular amendment fizzled without action. But Morgan revived the effort — and expanded the scope to cover multiple forms of workplace harassment and discrimination — after Gov. Steve Sisolak appointed her in January. No one spoke in public comment, either for or against the proposed amendment, on Wednesday. It’s listed as an agenda item for the Gaming Commission’s Nov. 21 meeting.

Earlier this year, the Gaming Commission slapped Wynn Resorts with a record-setting $20 million fine to settle a complaint that stemmed from the company’s failure to investigate sexual misconduct allegations against Wynn.

And last month gaming regulators moved to ban Wynn from the casino industry, alleging in a complaint that he “is not a person of good character, honesty, and/or integrity.”