Elaine Wynn Seeks Whistleblower Protection from the Nevada Supreme Court


Elaine Wynn wants access to $900 million in Wynn Resorts shares from her divorce settlement.

Elaine Wynn, the former wife of Las Vegas casino executive Steve Wynn, is pursuing whistleblower protection from the Nevada Supreme Court. Ms. Wynn is seeking protection from retaliations which a Las Vegas trial court was unable to gain.

Wynn Resorts spokesman Michael Weaver told Bloomberg News that the judge in the case ruled that Elaine Wynn does not qualify as a whistleblower under the Dodd-Frank or Sarbanes-Oxley laws.

Ms. Wynn’s lawyers cite a June 2016 revelation the company’s co-founder made to internal and outside auditors as proof she is a whistle blower.

Wants Access to $900 Million

In particular, Ms. Wynn wants to gain the ability to sell all or part of an estimated $900 million in a Wynn Resorts shares. Those shares were awarded to her in the divorce settlement between Elaine and Steve Wynn. Due to a prior agreement with Steve Wynn that she would have to ask his permission to sell shares, Ms. Wynn is barred from selling company shares. The ostensible reason for this agreement is it might put the future ownership of the company at stake.

Alleges Securities Law Violations

According to Bloomberg, Ms. Wynn contends she made undisclosed statements to the Wynn Resorts Ltd.’s audit committee, as well as outside auditors at Ernst & Young, about potential securities law violation. Elaine Wynn’s legal team is citing a previous case which involves Kazuo Okada, who was forced to redeem his 20% share in Wynn Resorts after he faced allegations of misconduct in Japan and the Philippines.

In March 2016, Elaine Wynn failed in her bid to re-gain membership on the Wynn Resorts board of directors. Her status as board member was barred by members loyal to Steve Wynn. Soon after, Ms. Wynn filed a suit to regain control of her shares in the company.

In June 2016, she wrote to the company’s audit committee and the outside auditors to, in the words of her lawyers, raise “questions about the conduct of Wynn Resorts and its management that she reasonably believed violated federal securities laws.

Alleged Violations Not Named

No court documents released have signaled what alleged violations might have occurred. The company which owns prestigious Las Vegas Strip resorts like Wynn Las Vegas, Encore at Wynn Las Vegas, Wynn Macau, and Wynn Boston Harbor, suggests that Steve Wynn’s ex-wife, who is co-founder of the company, is pursuing a personal vendetta against her former husband.

Michael Weaver said in a prepared statement, “Our company takes its obligations under all federal laws very seriously and is frustrated when those laws and valid protections are twisted and used to pursue a personal agenda.

Leaks and Company Sources

Wynn Resorts has alleged that Elaine Wynn violated a court order in releasing to the public information obtained in pretrial exchanges. The company also wants to know where Elaine Wynn obtained other privileged information which she shared with company auditors.

The second request suggests that Elaine Wynn obtained real information from sources inside the company and her charges are not a fabrication, at least not in a total sense.

About Wynn Resorts

Steve Wynn’s family were owners of New Jersey bingo parlors, but he moved to Las Vegas at an early age to get involved in big time Las Vegas casinos. Establishing a relationship with E. Parry Thomas, president of the Bank of Las Vegas and the only banker in town who would extend loans to casinos, Steve Wynn began his casino career in 1971.

At the time, Steve Wynn turned his profits from a land deal involving Caesars Palace and Howard Hughes into a controlling interest of the Golden Nugget Las Vegas. This would become the cornerstone of a growing casino empire in Las Vegas and, for a time in the 1980’s, Atlantic City. He opened the Mirage on the Las Vegas Strip in 1989.

Las Vegas Goes Corporate

In the 1990’s, Steve Wynn became synonymous with a boom era for the Las Vegas Strip. Steve Wynn built Treasure Island, Bellagio, Beau Rivage, and eventually his signature property, Wynn Las Vegas. Competitors opened luxury resorts like The Venetian, Mandalay Bay, and Paris Las Vegas in the same era, in what was known as the corporatization of Las Vegas. Several Wynn casinos passed to the ownership of MGM Resorts when Mirage merged with that company in 2000. Steve Wynn’s investment in Macau paid huge dividends from 2005 to 2014, though the decline of Macau’s gaming industry since then has hurt Wynn Resorts shares.

Through it all, Elaine Wynn was a part of the company’s success. She is listed as a co-founder of Wynn Resorts Inc. Steve and Elaine Wynn married in 1963 and divorced in 1986. They remarried again in 1990, but underwent a second divorce in 2010.