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Fremont casino in trouble with regulator over botched investigation

Updated September 22, 2020 - 6:00 pm

The Nevada Gaming Control Board has filed a four-count complaint against Boyd Gaming Corp.’s downtown Las Vegas Fremont property over a botched investigation that resulted in a woman being detained for 90 minutes for something she didn’t do.

The Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday will consider disciplinary action against the property over the incident that occurred just after midnight Nov. 24.

Unidentified security officers at the Fremont handcuffed and detained a woman who was gambling on slot machines at the property and was accused of stealing credits from another player who was on a nearby machine. Neither player was identified in the complaint.

What started as a patron dispute escalated into an accusation of theft. When Fremont security officers approached the woman, one officer grabbed her from behind, handcuffed her and led her off the floor to a holding room where she was interrogated.

Fremont managers later determined no theft had occurred.

A Boyd Gaming spokesman on Tuesday had no comment on the incident.

The Control Board, through the Attorney General’s Office, filed the complaint Sept. 16. The four counts of the complaint allege unsuitable operations and violations of Regulation 5, for damaging the state’s reputation.

According to the narrative in the complaint, two women were separately playing slot machines at the Fremont and one of them cashed out and received a ticket. The one who cashed out accused the second woman of playing the machine after her while she still had $20 of credits.

The woman who cashed out found a casino security officer and told him her story, and the officer found the second woman playing a machine and grabbed her from behind.

The filing said, “the manner in which the security officers handled the arrest of (the patron) was unreasonable given the circumstances.” The woman was apprehended, handcuffed and taken to a holding room and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department was called.

When surveillance recordings were reviewed, it was determined that the arrested woman was innocent.

“Based on the conversations between the patron, the security officer and the Metro officer, it is clear that Fremont personnel did not have a correct understanding of what the evidence purportedly showed,” the filing says.

The woman, in custody for an hour and 28 minutes, had the handcuffs removed at 1:50 a.m.

“Under the circumstances, there was no need to detain the patron or subject her to the treatment given to her and the threats to try and force a confession out of her,” the filing says. “The matter could have been resolved without even speaking to her, let alone detaining her for 90 minutes.”

Nine days after the incident, Control Board agents returned to the Fremont to follow up on the investigation after Boyd self-reported that the patron had mistakenly been accused of theft and detained by security personnel. That’s when the Control Board began its own investigation of Fremont personnel. Board agents said statements provided by officers contradicted what appeared in the surveillance coverage and Fremont security officers were evasive in their answers to agents.

“The board’s investigation revealed that Fremont did not seem to realize the full scope of the mistakes made by its employees that resulted in the wrongful detention of the patron, the wrongful taking of funds from an innocent patron or the sharing of incorrect information to the investigating officer of Metro and the board,” the filing said.

The commission is empowered to fine Fremont or suspend or revoke its license.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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