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Las Vegas hotel-casino operators told to stamp out illegal activities

22 March 2013

LAS VEGAS -- Two high-profile incidents and the fast-approaching summer months led state gaming regulators and Las Vegas police to issue a stern warning Thursday to hotel-casino operators: Keep a close watch on your nightclubs and pool parties or face disciplinary action for any illegal activity.

In a memorandum from the Nevada State Gaming Control Board Gaming Commission Chairman A.G. Burnett and Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie, resort leaders were told they are responsible for any criminal conduct in their venues, even if a nightclub, ultra lounge or day club is operated by a third-party vendor.

“Recent investigations have not only shown a lack of enforcement effort to curtail criminal activity on the part of patrons, but that venue staff have played an active role in condoning and/or facilitating the criminal activity,” Burnett and Gillespie wrote.

In an interview, Burnett said last month’s shooting and ensuing multicar wreck on the Strip, which left three people dead, played a large role in the notice to gaming licensees. The grisly, pre-dawn shooting had its origins in a dispute at the Aria valet area.

Another factor was the control board’s $1 million fine against the Palms Casino in January to settle charges of prostitution and drug sales at the property’s clubs.

“This shouldn’t be a surprise to our licensees,” Burnett said. “This is to serve notice to everyone involved that we are investigating problems. The sheriff is very concerned and there is a continuing desire for the departments to continue to work together on these issues.”

This is not the first time the Gaming Control Board and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department have teamed up for a letter to warn hotel-casino operators. Former control board chairman Mark Lipparelli and Gillespie authored a similar letter in 2011.

On Thursday, hotel-casinos were warned to keep a close watch on their nightclubs, pool parties, ultra lounges and day clubs as summer approaches.

The control board and police cited incidents of drug distribution and abuse, sexual assault, theft, violence, prostitution, nudity and the presence of minors at hotel-casino clubs and pools.

Burnett and Gillespie said the incidents reflect poorly on the hotel-casino, the property’s ownership, Las Vegas and the state of Nevada.

“This type of activity on the part of these who are supposed to be responsible for the protection of both the guests and the property will not be tolerated,” the memo stated.

The Gaming Control Board and the police department will continue to “actively conduct ongoing covert investigations” at hotel-casinos.

State gaming agents and police will also look into charges involving misquoting of fees, admission, service to minors and the handling of incapacitated persons.

Burnett and Gillespie said many hotel-casinos “have made significant progress” in developing policies that protect the location and customers.

But, their memo said, “The licensee will be held responsible for the actions occurring on its premises regardless of the association or contractual agreements between the licensee and lessee or third party operator/manager.”