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Best of Benjamin Spillman

Gaming Guru

Benjamin Spillman
 

Prive liquor license appeal denied

29 July 2009

LAS VEGAS, Nevada –- A Clark County official on Tuesday denied an appeal by operators of Privé nightclub to reinstate a liquor license that would allow the Planet Hollywood party spot to remain open.

The decision by Jacqueline Holloway, director of the Department of Business License, means the club will be closed until at least Aug. 4, when operators have a chance to make their case to Clark County commissioners.

The decision by Holloway also called on Privé owners to replace Frank Tucker and Greg Jarmolowich as key employees.

"The evidence of improper management oversight in the past was overwhelming," Holloway said in a statement. "The current management team cannot be relied upon to address these violations."

Tucker, Jarmolowich and a spokeswoman for Privé did not return calls by deadline to respond to Holloway's decision.

The club did remove from its Web site an advertisement for a party for actress Mary Rajskub scheduled for Friday night.

In a letter from Privé attorney Jay Brown, the club operators made their case to remain open for business during an investigation into allegations of lewd sexual behavior, illegal drug use, dangerous levels of alcohol abuse and sexual assaults.

The allegations were part of a July 9 complaint from the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

"With regard to the Security Management issue, sometime ago we replaced the Security Manager that was employed by Privé at the time of the allegations of the Complaint," the letter said.

Holloway wasn't convinced.

"While I am encouraged by the proposed plan presented today, I am not satisfied that it goes far enough to address the myriad problems that were uncovered," she wrote.

The decision was in response to an appeal by the club of an earlier denial of liquor licenses for Privé and Living Room, an adjacent lounge.

Privé has a temporary license that expired at midnight Tuesday and the Living Room's is valid until midnight Thursday, Holloway said.

Also, the Rio decided to indefinitely close its adult-themed Sapphire Pool after it failed an "integrity check" by Metro police on Saturday, the property's owner confirmed late Tuesday.

Harrah's Entertainment, which owns the Rio, asks the police to conduct periodic integrity checks on its nightclubs, pools and other amenities to make sure they are operating within the law.

The company would not discuss what was found on Saturday during the police inspection.

The closing of the pool, which featured dancers from the Sapphire Gentlemen's Club topless, comes as Nevada gaming regulators are taking a closer look at the amenities that operate at businesses in casinos.

"We have made a decision to terminate the relationship we have with Sapphire," Marybel Batjer, Harrah's vice president of communications, said. "We no longer offer a European-style pool choice at the Rio."

Gaming Control Board member Randall Sayre issued a letter in April saying regulators were taking a closer look at nightclubs, ultralounges and European pools where licensees might be found to "be indifferent to the conduct or welfare of patrons."

Planet Hollywood recently agreed to pay a $500,000 fine for failing to prevent problems at Privé, even though the club is owned and operated separately from the casino.

Holloway noted that Planet Hollywood is "immediately exercising oversight authority" at the club, but that apparently wasn't enough to grant the club's appeal.

Frank Schreck, an attorney for Planet Hollywood, declined to comment on the situation late Tuesday.

Privé's licensing issues are set to go before County Commissioners next Tuesday. They'll have the option to do anything from reinstating the licenses to granting conditional licenses to denying any licenses whatsoever.

"Everybody at the county over here has some concerns about the way business has been conducted at Privé, that's no secret," county spokesman Erik Pappa said. "The question is what happens next."