US & Canada

Las Vegas casino magnate Steve Wynn denies abusing employees

Mr Wynn, who is also a Republican official, attends an event at the White House Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Wynn, who is also a Republican official, at the White House

A top Republican Party official and casino mogul is denying a report he assaulted female employees in a decades-long pattern of abuse.

Steve Wynn is accused of harassing massage therapists and forcing one staff member to have sex with him, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous," Mr Wynn said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

He blamed his ex-wife, who he is fighting in court, for the "slander".

"The instigation of these accusations is the continued work of my ex-wife Elaine Wynn, with whom I am involved in a terrible and nasty lawsuit," the billionaire, turning 76 on Saturday, said in a statement that his public relations team sent to the BBC.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Steve Wynn and his ex-wife Elaine in happier times in Las Vegas back in 2007

Following the report, Wynn Resorts' stock price dropped by more than 10%.

Regulators in Massachusetts, where Mr Wynn is building a casino outside Boston, say they are "taking very seriously the troubling allegations", and have launched a review of his actions.

"The suitability and integrity of our gaming licensees is of the utmost importance, and ensuring that suitability is an active and ongoing process," a spokeswoman said in a statement.

A spokesman for Wynn Resorts would not comment on whether Mr Wynn, who has donated millions to political campaigns, planned to continue in his role as finance chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC).

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A Wynn casino in Las Vegas bears his signature

The RNC did not immediately respond to a BBC request for comment.

During his campaign for president, Donald Trump described his fellow businessman as "a great friend".

According to the Wall Street Journal, which said it had interviewed dozens of people who worked with Mr Wynn, he is accused of engaging in a pattern of abuse in which he often harassed massage therapists while alone in his private office.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption US President Donald Trump has called Mr Wynn a 'great friend'

The gambling industry giant paid $7.5m (£5.2m) to one manicurist who alleged she had been forced into sex by Mr Wynn, the paper claims citing court documents.

Female employees would fake appointments in order to avoid seeing him, or enlist others to pretend to be their assistants in order to avoid being alone with him.

Some would even hide in bathrooms or closets if they heard he was coming to their salon, the paper claimed.

Women told the paper they felt intimidated by the presence of one or more German Shepherd dogs in his office, which they said were taught to respond to commands in German.