Why Would Casino Operators Behavior Surprise Us?

Stephen Wynn, chairman and chief executive of Wynn Resorts, with his wife, Andrea Hissom. Fallout from the disclosure of allegations of sexual misconduct against Mr. Wynn mounted on Friday. Credit Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call, via Getty Images

Lafayette          The #MeToo moment is not yet over.  The Wall Street Journal broke a story on the front page on the sexually abusive and harassing behavior of Las Vegas based, global casino mogul, Stephen Wynn, long a billionaire legend as well as a transactional donor to politicians and political parties, and currently a big hitter with the Republicans now that his buddy, and former casino operator, Donald Trump is president.

The Journal reporters pulled the rope tightly on this story.  Nobody came looking for them, but they interviewed 150 people with stories to tell.  None of the tales were as far on the spectrum as the de facto rapes that have been alleged by Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Bill Cosby and Russell Simmons, but Wynn nudges close to that line in what he demanded in the power imbalance of a billionaire to many of his masseuses and other rank-and-file employees and subcontractors.  What he clearly wanted, and was sometimes getting, was more than a back rub for his $1000 in case for the treatment.  His defense is to finger point at the long ranging lawsuit with his former wife, and claim it was all vengeful make believe.  Sorry, Stevie, one-hundred fifty voices calling you name makes this more than a courtroom financial wheeler dealer situation.

Additionally, the Journal points out that the Wynn situation is a first.  Obviously, it’s not a first when it comes to old, rich men sexually harassing and exploiting women under their thumbs, but it is the first time the head of a big company that is publicly traded in the stock exchange has been caught with his pants so far down and totally exposed.  The market dropped the shares of his company by 10%.  It is also first time one of these exploiters has been caught in a company that is publicly regulated according to the Journal, although that claim is harder to sort out.  Indeed, the gaming commission in the state of Massachusetts has said they will investigate and look at the requirements of their license for the $2.5 billion casino Wynn is currently building in the state.

Let’s agree that he’s gotten himself in a mess and whatever happens next is his just dessert, though we can predict his fall will be complete and total within days.   My first reaction was shocking to me:  I wasn’t surprised.  No matter how many millions and billions are spent creating the peculiar environments that make up casinos, they are inherently sleazy, and that’s part of their appeal.  To create a business which is based on the vast majority of customers losing money, the real appeal has to be somewhere else, and it likes in the culture that advertises that “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

Furthermore, for all the hue and cry, if you take another casino operator out of the sleaze and sizzle that defines that enterprise where everyone is a mark ready to be fleeced, doesn’t that also explain the behavioral entitlement and objectification of women that also defines Donald Trump, as well as his operating ideology and political philosophy?

Apples don’t roll far from the tree or in this case the roulette wheels.

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