In the end, Paris Hilton’s star power wasn’t worth the high-stakes headaches.
So hotel operator Steve Wynn on Wednesday banned the trouble-prone hotel heiress from his two Las Vegas properties, Wynn Las Vegas and Encore.
A Wynn rep confirmed Wynn’s decision, which was first reported Wednesday on my Twitter site (@NormClarke).
Wynn later released a statement announcing that Hilton’s boyfriend, Wynn nightclub operator Cy Waits, has “separated from the company and is free to pursue other interests.”
Hilton was charged with one felony count of cocaine possession after her arrest late Friday near the south entrance to Wynn Las Vegas.
Waits, who was driving his SUV, was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Because Wynn isn’t explaining his hardball decision, I asked five local hospitality and casino operators for their takes on Wynn’s decision.
“Steve had no choice,” said an executive at a competing hotel. “I would have done the same thing. Why risk it?”
“The message he’s sending,” said another executive, “is that he’s not going to put up with drugs, especially how it relates to nightclubs.”
One thing’s clear from the interviews, which were done under the condition of anonymity: There’s a growing anger that Hilton has worn out her welcome.
“She needs to grow up,” said one of the top executives. “I think people are completely burned out on her. As much as she promoted Vegas, and she did a lot for the town because it fueled people coming here, I wouldn’t welcome her back. It would send a bad message, especially when you’re dealing with cocaine. She would have to go a few years proving herself before I’d think of letting her back in.”
A longtime nightclub executive said he would like to see Hilton’s judge “throw the book at her. Tell her ‘you’re banned from Vegas for a year.’ She’s been nothing but bad news.”
A high-ranking club executive added, “Steve felt this was too close to home and he needed to make a strong statement about his no-tolerance policy. I would have done the same thing and so would other hoteliers for the integrity of their gaming license and liquor license.”
But banning her is not going to stop her from visiting, he said. With so much competition, especially in a down economy, “she’ll find other places,” he said.
It was not the first time Wynn moved swiftly after an embarrassing public incident.
Five years ago, near the same location as Friday’s traffic stop, another high-ranking Wynn executive lost his job after an incident on the opening night of Wynn Las Vegas on April 28, 2005.
J.C. Campbell, Wynn’s director of compensation and benefits, was fired after the incident. He was arrested by police and jailed on drunken driving and hit-and-run charges. Both he and his wife, City Council community liaison Lisa Clearwater Campbell, were jailed. She was charged after she attempted to stop her husband’s arrest by informing officers of her position at City Hall, police said.
THE PUNCH LINE
“Paris Hilton was arrested with cocaine, and she claimed that she thought it was chewing gum. She was charged with possession of less than an ounce of common sense.” — David Letterman
Norm Clarke can be reached at (702) 383-0244 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Find additional sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com.