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Gaming Guru

Arnold M. Knightly
 

Planet Hollywood busts a part of safety push

29 September 2009

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- The arrests of six Planet Hollywood Resort employees in the past two months are part of a cooperative effort with law enforcement agencies to rid the resort of workers who could jeopardize the casino licensee's standing with casino regulators, resort officials insist.

Resort Chief Executive Officer and President Tom McCartney said the arrests, and the expulsion of thousands of customers from the resort this year by security and police, are part of a collaborative effort with authorities to keep customers safe.

"In the time that I have been here, the focus of the property has been to always work with Metro (police) and government agencies," McCartney, who took over the property in January, said. "We've never deviated from that."

McCartney added, "Our interest is the public interest. We want to protect the property, the customers and the employees."

The recent arrests come as the property is under scrutiny from Metro and gaming regulators following the state Gaming Control Board's finding in July that the resort failed to adequately oversee activities at the Privé nightclub. Planet Hollywood Resort agreed to a $500,000 fine, and could be fined an additional $250,000 if another complaint is filed against the hotel-casino before July 31, 2011.

State casino regulators did not return calls last week seeking comments on the latest arrests and whether the control board may take further action against the resort.

McCartney, however, said the six arrests and the fine were "coincidences of events" that, unfortunately, occurred during a brief space of time. He insisted the actions don't point to a larger problem of the hotel-casino not properly maintaining operational control of the resort.

The latest arrests involve two Planet Hollywood bartenders who were taken into custody by Metro police Sept. 17.

Bartenders Jabari Cameron and Eric Andrade, both 35, were arrested on charges of selling liquor to a minor and allowing a minor to gamble.

Police spokesman Bill Cassell said the two men allegedly also allowed prostitutes to operate and alerted them when vice officers were on the property.

Metro's vice unit originally alerted Planet Hollywood Resort on Aug. 12 that it had received information that the bartenders were tipping off prostitutes, some of whom might be under age.

At that time, Metro also served Planet Hollywood Resort with a "notice of noncompliance," although the notice was withdrawn Wednesday after discussions between police and property officials.

The notice of noncompliance could have caused more problems for Planet Hollywood Resort by spurring an investigation of the property's liquor license and further scrutiny from state gaming regulators.

McCartney said the notice was withdrawn because the hotel-casino had been asked not to take action against the bartenders while Metro's vice unit continued its investigation, which led to the bartenders' arrests five weeks later.

Metro spokesman Jay Rivera declined to comment, stating the case is not closed.

A high-ranking Metro official, however, confirmed McCartney's story and said the notice was issued because of a miscommunication between departments.

The Privé nightclub problem led to control board member Randall Sayre holding a three-hour seminar this month to help casino licensees understand what is expected of them when it comes to overseeing activities at their properties.

While regulators are concerned about the crimes, they are also concerned with the operation breakdown that allows these crimes to happen.

"We want to see a progressive, preventive policy in place in order to keep that from happening," Sayre said. "You must be able to demonstrate to us that you do have an aggressive security approach to keeping those minors out of your casino."

In addition to the bartenders, Gaming Control Board agents on Aug. 21 arrested four poker room employees -- Thomas R. Kordick, Scott Marshall, Jason Peterson and Jonathan Sanner -- in an alleged plot to take phony jackpot payoffs.

Property officials alerted regulators about the four casino managers and their supervisors, McCartney said.