Attorney spearheads movement to stop kickbacks for strip club clientele

The great Las Vegas topless/taxi war is about to escalate on multiple fronts.

Strip clubs have been doling out up to $100 per person to limo and cabdrivers, who in turn have been compelled to kick back some of that money to resort doormen in an arrangement that’s costing the cabarets millions each month.

Lately some issues are being raised that could haunt the licensed gaming companies at a time they can least afford such headaches.

Attorney Al Marquis represents a hastily assembled collection of local business owners and citizens calling themselves Fairness in Transportation. In a letter being sent to Las Vegas casino presidents, Marquis raises the issues of ethics and fairness at the resorts’ front doors. The seasoned lawyer also notes there’s documentation showing women seeking cab and limo rides are being discriminated against in favor of men, who are being offered free rides to the topless clubs.

“We really want to put a stop to the practice of strip clubs, or any business for that matter, paying for the delivery of passengers,” Marquis said. “We want to put an end to doormen pulling people out of taxi lines and putting them ahead of other customers. All of those things are bad for business in Las Vegas, and we want to put a stop to all of it.”

The Marquis group has set up a Web site called wedontdobusinessthatway.com, and the lawyer makes no secret that with the Legislature in session there’s the real potential to change the law.

“I think this can be addressed with legislation that can be enforced,” he said. “We need a law that prohibits this activity. This practice is bad for everyone in Las Vegas except for a few cab and limo drivers.”

Perhaps it’s Tax Day paranoia, but what’s this I hear about the IRS showing interest in some of the key players in the topless/taxi underground payoff system?

MIRACLE LEAGUE: Thursday’s idyllic weather provided a near-perfect backdrop for the groundbreaking of the new Miracle League baseball field at 101 S. Rancho Drive next to the First Christian Church.

The field will accommodate the needs of disabled children seeking to play baseball and is the beneficiary of a $1.5 million donation from the Ralph and Betty Engelstad Family Foundation.

Bringing a field to Las Vegas is the idea of local attorney and businessman Tim McGarry and his friend Sal Cordero, a parishioner at First Christian. They worked with church co-pastors Ginger and David Jarman. Neighbors, including the Masonic Lodge and the Rancho Manor Homeowners Association, were quick to lend their support.

DIVORCE TV: The pending divorce of Gov. Jim Gibbons and Dawn Gibbons continues to surge through the national media. Earlier this week, “The Today Show” featured a segment on the unhappy couple and the governor’s alleged infidelities. “Inside Edition” was in Las Vegas on Thursday asking about the divorce and the allegations contained in litigation filed by former Las Vegas cocktail waitress Chrissy Mazzeo, who has alleged she was accosted by then-Congressman Gibbons just weeks before the November election in 2006.

CLOSED WINDOW: Sports bettors already are lamenting the announced closure of the sports book inside Bally’s Las Vegas.

That sports book has produced a number of solid bookmakers, including Jimmy Vaccaro, John Avello and Lenny Del Genio.

With legalized sports betting holding the potential to expand to Delaware and New Jersey, the casino industry faces some intriguing questions about the future of that part of the business.

Will casino bosses surprise us and grow the sports book trade, or will they continue to downplay its importance to the bottom line and the image of Las Vegas as a place where the action flows?

THREE SQUARE: Terrible weather April 3 didn’t dampen a great cause at the Las Vegas Springs Preserve fundraiser for the Three Square food bank. A crowd of 850 endured rain, sleet, and cold winds to generate funds to support the innovative food bank, and Elaine Wynn stepped up to donate $100,000 to fighting hunger in Southern Nevada.

In difficult economic times, that money goes a long way. You can donate at threesquare.org.

ON THE BOULEVARD: Former Las Vegas Sands President Bill Weidner celebrated a birthday this week. I wonder if his wish had anything to do with making a comeback on the Strip.

Have an item for the Bard of the Boulevard? E-mail comments and contributions to Smith@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0295. He also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/smith/.

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