Patrons of Dino’s Lounge, the near-downtown Las Vegas bar known for karaoke, have not been allowed to sing at the establishment since it reopened in the fall because of statewide rules intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Beyond significantly cutting into its business, Dino’s argues in a recently filed lawsuit that restrictions are being applied unevenly by the city and Clark County, where other bars and lounges have purportedly been permitted to continue karaoke.
“Either the city or the county are looking the other way, or (other venues) are just violating the law and nothing’s happening to them,” attorney E. Brent Bryson, who is representing Dino’s, said this week.
Bryson claims that some two dozen establishments, largely in the county, remain allowed to host karaoke even as Dino’s, “a haven for karaoke” over the last 25 years, has been prevented by the city from doing so since late September when 10-week statewide bar closures were lifted.
Both the city and county said this week that karaoke is not currently allowed within their jurisdictions, and a city spokesman said specifically it was due to Gov. Steve Sisolak’s ”pandemic restrictions.”
However, Dino’s sued the city and county in District Court last month for allegedly treating the bar differently than other venues, depriving it of its right to conduct business, interfering with its prospective economic gain, and negligence.
It seeks, in part, injunctive relief either allowing Dino’s to host karaoke or prohibiting other venues from doing so, according to the complaint filed Nov. 12.
The city and county declined to comment on the legal matter.
‘We are a karaoke bar’
Whether existing statewide rules currently restrict karaoke is also an interpretation under contention. Bryson was clear that his client had no quarrel with the state. But he also said he believed there was nothing in present directives or guidelines that precluded karaoke from occurring inside lounges, only at events that he took to mean functions such as weddings and corporate parties.
A message left with the governor’s office Friday seeking clarity on karaoke rules was not immediately returned.
Dino’s owner Kristin Bartolo approached the state’s coronavirus task force in late October, speaking publicly about the hardship that statewide restrictions were having on Dino’s, which has been open since 1962 and sits on Las Vegas Boulevard south of downtown.
At the time, Bartolo told the task force that the city and state attorney general’s office had informed her that karaoke, including in rooms, was prohibited.
According to emails attached to the legal complaint, the city initially told her the month prior that karaoke was allowed under specific conditions, but it soon reversed course after speaking with regional and state agencies.
Plexiglass, microphone covers
Bartolo fears it is likely to lose its clientele to other venues allowed to host karaoke, according to the lawsuit, and Dino’s had spent thousands of dollars to ensure it could safely enable customers to sing.
The costly upgrades included building a plexiglass barrier between a performer and the crowd and purchasing 6,000 microphone covers, the lawsuit said. In addition, social distancing and sanitation measures were in place.
Bryson said Dino’s is currently complying with Sisolak’s most recent order reducing crowd size to 25 percent and that allowing karaoke, even at that capacity, would be significant to the establishment’s business.
“The governor’s order needs to be carried out evenly to everybody or not carried out at all,” he said.