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Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

Privé gets 90-day liquor license

7 October 2009

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- County commissioners Tuesday approved a 90-day liquor license for the Privé nightclub at Planet Hollywood Resort while Las Vegas police continue a background investigation of the club's new owners. The investigation could cost the owners $15,000 and 18 months to complete.

Commissioner Steve Sisolak questioned why the investigation will take so long and if it will place a financial burden on the owners.

"Is there nothing we can do to speed this up?" Sisolak said. "In fairness to the individuals, I don't know what the cost of this is, but when it gets dragged out for this length of time, it would seem it would be enormous."

Business license director Jacqueline Holloway estimated the cost of the investigation, which will include sending as many as three police detectives to Miami, where the owners operate other businesses, at $10,000 to $15,000. She added that it customarily takes a year or longer to complete investigations of large applicants, especially if they are from another state.

Barry Reinink, a detective with police special investigations unit, said officers "want to do their due diligence in looking at every aspect of those businesses."

Police officials need to complete background checks on two of Privé's owners and three managers before the club can be issued a permanent license.

The owners of Privé, and the ultralounge The Living Room, will need to return to the county commission in early January for another license hearing.

"We've worked so hard with Metro, Planet Hollywood and business license," Privé attorney Jay Brown said. He said the club will be scrutinized while it operates under a temporary license and could be closed quickly by county officials if new violations surface.

"The good thing about the temporary is that it also allows us to take prompt and precise enforcement action if we find something wrong," Holloway said.

The club was shut down by the county in late July after its liquor license was revoked because the resort and club were found to be failing to "abide by the duties of a liquor licensee."

Privé reopened four weeks later under a 30-day license after the new owners were in place.

The clubs were cited for three violations, which included allowing topless and lewd activity to take place on site, in 2008 by the Business License Department.

Privé has agreed to reimburse Planet Hollywood $375,000 of a $500,000 fine that was issued by casino regulators, who said the resort did not "maintain sufficient control over" the nightclub.

The resort will have to pay an additional $250,000 fine if a similar complaint is filed before July 31, 2011.

Holloway said the club's new managers, as well as management from Planet Hollywood, have been "aggressive" in monitoring Privé and The Living Room since the club was closed this summer.

Privé is owned by Miami-based Opium Group.

Five commissioners approved the 90-day license, with commission Chairman Rory Reid not voting.

Commissioner Lawrence Weekly voted against the motion without comment.