Substandard construction inside Harrah’s Las Vegas, including areas frequented by guests, has been repaired at several sites but still awaits the final inspection that will close the saga of covert remodeling by Harrah’s Entertainment, uncovered two years ago when a terminated hotel electrician took his suspicions to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The parent company, Harrah’s Entertainment, cleared a legal hurdle in early December when a judge dropped six misdemeanor counts against the hotel giant for building code violations — including failing to get permits or schedule inspections — at Harrah’s on the Strip, as well at its off-Strip hotel, the Rio. But building permits were still open Monday for repairs to the Strip hotel’s remodeled check-in area for Diamond Club guests and to the ground-floor Piano Bar, which opens onto a street-side courtyard.
Other permits are also open for remediation of some remodeled employee offices on the hotel’s second floor and in the basement, as well as a storage area for spare slot machines.
Some of these areas with active permits have been operating under provisional status — called a temporary certificate of occupancy — for more than two years. After the areas pass their final inspections, they will receive permanent certificates of occupancy, which will close the permits.
Projects to fix safety problems related to remodeling in guest rooms at Harrah’s Las Vegas and at the Rio all passed final inspection months ago.
District Attorney David Roger and Harrah’s lawyer Richard Bryan, the former senator and governor, had jointly asked Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Eric Goodman for dismissal of the misdemeanors on Dec. 4, the day that the county released an almost 700-page report on Harrah’s recent hotel remodelings here. Leo A Daly, an engineering and design firm, prepared the report. Goodman, who is the Las Vegas mayor’s son, dismissed the charges that day.
The Daly audit sampled remodeling work at Harrah’s eight local properties, for compliance with building and other safety codes. Harrah’s Entertainment paid for the audit, but the county selected Daly and held the Daly contract. The district attorney insisted on safety verification by an independent third party when his office agreed more than a year ago to work with the gaming company as it verified the extent of problematic hotel remodeling and brought deficiencies up to code.
The Daly report consists of 170 inspections by Daly personnel, who analyzed more than 80 projects at the eight hotels, and reviewed more than 8,000 pages of county documents about the projects.
The Daly report rejects the theory of an "apparent, or underlying, large scale conspiracy effort to neglect" the processes that govern adequate design, safe construction and safe maintenance of buildings in Clark County, according to Daly’s executive summary.
About 22 percent of inspections revealed "possible" issues that could threaten occupants’ safety, the report summarized. But the "majority of the … possible life safety issues appear to be a result of post-construction activity," which can occur through faulty or deferred maintenance.
Examples of both good and unsatisfactory construction work are detailed in the report, as well as examples of good policing by county building authorities, and failed follow-through.
On the plus side, Harrah’s flawlessly executed a 2006 renovation of the Caesars Palace employee dining room. The same year it also remodeled guest rooms on six floors at Paris Las Vegas, with no snags.
Contact reporter Joan Whitely at email@example.com or 702-383-0268.SOME OF THE DEFICIENCIES NOTED IN THE DALY REPORT
BALLY’S — acquired by Harrah’s in 2005
2004: The permit for a storage addition required installation of fire sprinklers. None was installed.
2005: In an electrical room serving the hotel’s call center, holes through the walls were not sealed, as required, to prevent the spread of smoke, fumes and flame.
BILL’S GAMBLIN’ HALL & SALOON — acquired by Harrah’s in 2007
2001: In a remodel of the men’s restroom at Drai’s, some electrical work fails to meet code.
CAESARS PALACE — acquired by Harrah’s in 2005
2005: In some locations at the Augustus Tower spa, holes through fire-rated surfaces lack mandatory fire sealing.
FLAMINGO LAS VEGAS — acquired by Harrah’s in 2005
2006: During guest room remodeling on 10 floors in two of the hotel’s towers, fire-alarm strobes — to notify the hearing-impaired of an emergency — were not installed in corridors.
HARRAH’S LAS VEGAS — a Harrah’s property since 1992
2007: A permit was issued for extensive renovation of the Diamond Lounge one day before the work received its first inspection. Daly found that some walls intended to withstand fire were not installed properly. Mandatory fire strobes were not originally installed. Some fire-rated walls were compromised by unsealed holes through which pipes or wiring pass.
IMPERIAL PALACE — acquired by Harrah’s in 2005
2006: At the Beachers Rockhouse bar, the lobby lacks "fire notification devices." Electrical work above the bar’s ceiling is below code including: use of extension cords, debris, electronic equipment that "appears to not be rated for ceiling spaces," coverless junction boxes, wiring abandoned in place.
PARIS las vegas — acquired by Harrah’s in 2005
2007: A walk-in cooler and freezer were added in the parking garage, to serve the Eiffel Tower Restaurant, without plans, permits or inspections.
RIO — ACQUIRED BY HARRAH’S IN 1999
2007: Daly verifies that remediation work — to bring substandard remodeling up to code — was correctly done on floors 3 through 19 of the Ipanema tower and in honeymoon suites at the Masquerade Tower.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL