600 rooms at Harrah's closed


As a safety precaution, Harrah's Las Vegas early Monday evening closed about 600 of its hotel rooms, relocating affected guests to comparable lodgings at sister properties nearby.

Jan Jones, an executive at Harrah's Entertainment, said the company voluntarily took the step because an ongoing internal investigation had revealed that several larger remodeling projects at Harrah's on the Strip took place without the necessary permits.

The vacated Harrah's rooms account for 15 percent to 20 percent of the property's estimated 3,000 rooms, said Marybel Batjer, vice president of public policy and communications for Harrah's Entertainment.

"I'm not sure that all those rooms had reservations against them," she said.

Harrah's started shuttling some guests to other quarters at about 6 p.m., Batjer said. That is about the same time Harrah's communicated its decisions to county officials including Rory Reid, Clark County Commission chairman, and County Manager Virginia Valentine.

"We value the trust that our guests and communities have placed in us, and the only way we can maintain that trust is to be completely open about the results of the investigation," Jones said in a statement.

The investigation continues, but the company believes its problematic remodeling is "isolated" to Harrah's and the Rio, Jones said.

The county's building division closed two floors of remodeled rooms at the Rio on Saturday, also for lack of proper permits and inspections.

Batjer said the Harrah's rooms will be returned to service as quickly as possible.

"Those rooms that are now being identified will be properly, with the county and with an independent contractor, reviewed, remediated, inspected and ... given a proper certificate of occupancy." She did not predict a timetable for those events.

The property opened in 1973 as the Holiday Casino and Holiday Inn. Harrah's purchased the Holiday Casino in 1983.

Jones said Gary Loveman, Harrah's Entertainment chairman and chief executive officer, has asked company Vice Chairman Chuck Atwood to oversee the response to the inquiry when completed, including any corrective action.

"We will move to immediately develop policies and procedures to ensure these mistakes are not repeated," Jones said.

Contact reporter Joan Whitely at jwhitely@reviewjournal.com or (702) 383-0268.

 

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