Wynn and Scientific Games Partner for Online Sports Betting and Gambling

Wynn Resorts is finally getting into the US online gambling business. Last week, Wynn Resorts and Scientific Games announced a partnership “to support the launch of Wynn Resorts’ unique digital sports betting and iGaming applications in the U.S.”

In a short press release, Scientific Games states the two companies plan to initially launch online sports betting and gambling in the New Jersey market. The press release is short on details beyond noting the partnership and naming New Jersey as the first target. No information regarding the financial terms or geographic reach of the partnership have been given.

Wynn Resorts will use several of Scientific Game’s products and services in the Garden State, including the group’s content system which boasts over 2,000 digital games. The announcement also specifically mentions giving players access to popular slots titles such as Raging Rhino, Zeus and 88 Fortunes.

Partnership Announcement Leaves Questions

Last week’s press release appears at first glance to be the general sort of announcement that has become the norm in regulated US online gambling of late: two industry giants, one land-based and one focused on digital gaming, teaming up to bring online betting to US customers.

Closer consideration exposes several potential problem areas. The most glaring of these is the fact that Wynn only has a physical presence in Nevada – its two resorts there being the Wynn Las Vegas and Encore at Wynn Las Vegas. Wynn is also nearing completion of its $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor casino resort in Massachusetts.

However, the press release names New Jersey as the initial launch point for the partnership despite Wynn having no physical presence in the Garden State. Thus, Wynn will apparently need to reach yet another agreement with a land-based operator in New Jersey to secure access to the NJ online gambling market.

A second question that remains is the status of a sports betting deal Wynn Resorts already has in place with European mobile sportsbook and casino operator BetBull. The two joined forces in October 2018 that involved Wynn Resorts taking a 22.5% stake in the Malta-based and UK-licensed sports betting company.

When announcing the deal last year, Wynn Resorts said it decided to sign in order to “pursue sports betting opportunities in the emerging US market.”  Wynn Resorts said that it intended using its “nationally recognized brand” as a platform for BetBull’s technology.

“Nationally Recognized” for the Wrong Reasons

Wynn Resorts classified itself as national recognized back in October, but the name has become something of a liability in recent months as the casino is embroiled in lawsuits related to sexual misconduct allegations against company namesake and former CEO Steve Wynn.

Years of sexual misconduct rumors came to a head in early 2018 in a January Wall Street Journal report the detailed listed a number of cases of sexual misconduct allegations aimed at the 76-year-old Wynn.

One month later, the casino mogul stepped down as chairman and chief executive of Wynn Resorts. Wynn issued a statement explaining he was resigning in response to “an avalanche of negative publicity” that had created a situation “in which a rush to judgment takes precedence over everything else, including the facts.”

One of the cases involved a manicurist at the Wynn Las Vegas who accused him of pressuring her to sleep with him. Wynn reached a $7.5 million settlement with the woman but denies allegations he pressured her or anyone else to sleep with him.

When the separation agreement with Steve Wynn was announced by Wynn Resorts last year, it was hinted the company may be considering rebranding under a different name. Under the separation agreement, there is a clause that states the founder will be provided with written information “in the event that the company ceases to use the WYNN name and trademark.”

Following the Wall Street Journal report, gaming regulators in Nevada and Massachusetts opened investigations into his alleged misconduct.  The government of Macau, where Wynn Resorts has invested heavily, said it was “concerned” over the allegations.

The Ongoing Wynn Massachusetts Casino Debate

In the meantime, Wynn Resorts continues to be grilled by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to determine the future of the Encore Boston Harbor.

Earlier this month, executives from the company faced the Commission for a casino license suitability hearing. Regulators questioned the company’s right to hold a Massachusetts gaming license based on how it handled sexual misconduct allegations against its former CEO.Wynn Resorts claims it has gone to extraordinary lengths to distance itself from Steve Wynn since the Wall Street Journal piece was published. It even went so far as to change the name of the future casino from the earlier-planned Wynn Boston Harbor to Encore Boston Harbor.

The group also said its board of members was cleared of anyone with allegiance to the disgraced CEO. In addition, a number of measures to combat sexual harassment in all Wynn properties have been adopted.

The gambling authority questioned why Wynn Resorts still found it suitable to make a $10 million severance payout to the group’s former general counsel, Kim Sinatra, instead of firing her for not reporting Wynn to the Commission.

Wynn Resorts now awaits the Commission’s findings to see whether it remains suitable to hold the casino license. The decision could come in the next few days or weeks.