Security lesson for club staffers

Regulators are shining a spotlight into Las Vegas’ booming nightclub industry.

Alan Zajic and Steven Baker want to help nightclub operators withstand the heat.

The two men offered their first nightclub security class this week at the International Gaming Institute at University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

They started planning the class months before everyone from the Internal Revenue Service to the Nevada Gaming Control Board to Clark County’s Business License Department swooped into popular clubs such as Pure in Caesars Palace and Privé at Planet Hollywood Resort.

But the new scrutiny, particularly this month’s decisions by gaming regulators to fine Planet Hollywood Resort $500,000 and by the county to deny Privé a liquor license, prompted new interest in the class aimed at increasing professionalism in the nightclub industry.

Zajic, a licensed security consultant from Wadsworth, explained how people like him test nightclubs like a secret shopper tests a retail store.

"We’re going to throw a lot of cash around and see what we can get away with. We’re going to shop your club, we’re going to shop for everything," Zajic told a classroom filled with workers from Planet Hollywood Resort, MGM Mirage, the Golden Nugget, two Laughlin resorts, the Metropolitan Police Department and a number of law firms. "I’m going to give a tip at the door and see if I can blow my way through with a girl I’ve given a fake ID. Can you guys stand that kind of scrutiny?"

The two men spent much of the class reiterating the importance of hiring qualified, ethical professionals to work club security.

The image of burly bouncers shaking down tourists for tips has badly hurt the industry and contributed to the crackdown, they said. As has reports of club security attempting to prevent police and other law enforcement officers from poking around clubs.

"I know the law enforcement community certainly does not think highly of the nightclub security side," Zajic said. "They have some serious image issues there to overcome."

Baker, president of VTI Associates in Boulder City, is also a licensed security consultant. He showed the class dozens of ways people can sneak drugs and weapons into a restricted area, then challenged them to learn to prevent troublemakers from creating problems that can not only hurt customers but take down an entire business.

"Do you think anyone in narcotics or law enforcement really cares if you have a license tomorrow if they can make a good bust?" Baker asked.

Business practices in the nightclub industry have been center stage in Nevada since gaming regulators issued an extensive complaint against Privé, a document that alleged rampant drug use, lewd sexual behavior, overserving of patrons and sexual assaults.

What gave the complaint an extra jolt is that it came with a $500,000 fine for Planet Hollywood Resort, the casino where Privé operates, even though the club just leases the space and isn’t operated by the casino.

The fine and a July 21 letter from Nevada Gaming Control Board member Randall Sayre addressed to "all licensees and interested parties" put the casino owners on notice that they, too, could be on the hook for problems in the nightclubs.

"Either through lack of knowledge or apathy, licensees are creating regulatory challenges in areas requiring corrective action in other areas beyond nightclubs," Sayre wrote.

Explicitly dragging the casinos into the fray is what Zajic, Baker and others said will prod the nightclub industry into improving business practices.

"It is not so much the (fine)," Baker said, "it is the danger of losing their gaming license, which means they will lose billions."

The class itself was a low-key affair.

Most of the students, which included club and casino middle managers and security specialists, avoided reporters who observed from the back.

One student, who said he worked at a casino with a nightclub, said that after gaming regulators step in, "everyone hears about it."

Another student, attorney Michael Koning, who says he’s handled more than a dozen cases against strip clubs and nightclubs, said for years customers with a beef against a club haven’t had anywhere to take their complaints.

"Most customers don’t realize the casino does not, did not, have any control," Koning said.

He said momentum started to shift in favor of more scrutiny after Internal Revenue Service agents swarmed on Pure in February 2008 as part of an investigation that still hasn’t come to fruition.

"The IRS’ involvement made Caesars look bad, it made the gaming industry look bad," Koning said.

Nakia Jackson-Hale, the International Gaming Institute’s director of programs, said she expects there will be more nightclub security classes in October.

"I think this class was in demand mainly because of the situation," she said.

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at or 702-477-3861.


Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Facial recognition software at G2E – Todd Prince
Shing Tao, CEO of Las Vegas-based Remark Holdings, talks about his facial recognition product. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Bobby Baldwin to leave MGM
MGM Resorts International executive and professional poker player Bobby Baldwin is set to leave MGM.
Caesars has new armed emergency response teams
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has created armed emergency response teams. They are composed of former military and law enforcement officials. "These teams provide valuable additional security capabilities,” Caesars spokeswoman Jennifer Forkish said. Caesars is hiring Security Saturation Team supervisors, managers and officers, according to LinkedIn. The company did not say how many people it plans to hire for the units. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas, airlines prepare for CES
CES in January is expected to attract more than 180,000 attendees. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
AGS partners with Vegas Golden Knights
AGS is the nation’s second-largest manufacturer of Class II slot machines used primarily in tribal jurisdictions. It announced a marketing partnership with the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lehman Brothers bet big on Las Vegas
Lehman Brothers collapsed 10 years ago, helping send the country into the Great Recession.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Ross & Snow launches in Las Vegas
Luxury shoe brand Ross & Snow has opened in Las Vegas, featuring "functional luxury" with premium shearling footwear. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remote Identification and Drones
DJI vice president of policy and public affairs discusses using remote identification on drones. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Drones and public safety in Nevada
Two representatives in the drone industry discuss UAV's impact on public safety. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Frontier Airlines to launch flights from Las Vegas to Mexico
Frontier, a Denver-based ultra-low-cost carrier, will become the first airline in more than a decade to offer international service to Canada and Mexico from Las Vegas when flights to Cancun and Los Cabos begin Dec. 15. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International opens the doors on MGM Springfield
Massachusetts’ first hotel-casino opens in downtown Springfield. The $960 million MGM Springfield has 252 rooms and 125,000-square-feet of casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International prepares to open MGM Springfield
Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International gave news media and invited guests a preview of the $960 million MGM Springfield casino in Massachusetts. The commonwealth's first resort casino will open Friday, Aug. 24. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A Walk Through Circus Circus
It only takes a short walk through Circus Circus to realize it attracts a demographic like no other casino on the Strip: families with young children. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Morphy Auctions, a vintage slot machines seller, wants gaming license
Vice president Don Grimmer talks about Morphy Auctions at the company's warehouse located at 4520 Arville Street in Las Vegas on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada's venture capital money doesn't stay in state
Zach Miles, associate vice president for economic development for UNLV, said there’s venture money in Southern Nevada, “but trying to find the right groups to tap into for that money is different.” According to a 2017 report from the Kauffman Foundation, Las Vegas ranked number 34 out of 40 metropolitan areas for growth entrepreneurship, a metric of how much startups grow. With a lack of growing startups in Las Vegas, investment money is being sent outside of state borders. The southwest region of the U.S. received $386 million in funding in the second quarter, with about $25.2 million in Nevada. The San Francisco area alone received about $5.6 billion. (source: CB Insights)
Neon wraps can light up the night for advertising
Vinyl wrap company 5150 Wraps talks about neon wraps, a new technology that the company believes can boost advertising at night. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nevada on the forefront of drone safety
Dr. Chris Walach, senior director of Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, talks to a reporter at NIAS's new Nevada Drone Center for Excellence of Public Safety, located inside the Switch Innevation Center in Las Vegas. K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto
Motel 8 on south Strip will become site of hotel-casino
Israeli hoteliers Asher Gabay and Benny Zerah bought Motel 8 on the south Strip for $7.4 million, records show. They plan to bulldoze the property and build a hotel-casino. Motel 8 was built in the 1960s and used to be one of several roadside inns on what's now the south Strip. But it looks out of place today, dwarfed by the towering Mandalay Bay right across the street.
Project billed as one of the world's largest marijuana dispensaries plans to open Nov. 1
Planet 13 co-CEO Larry Scheffler talks about what to expect from the new marijuana dispensary, Thursday, July 19, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Oasis Biotech opens in Las Vegas
Brock Leach, chief operating officer of Oasis Biotech, discusses the new plant factory at its grand opening on July 18. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like