State gaming regulators confirmed Wednesday that they are looking into the incidents that led to the arrest of eight people on drug and prostitution charges at the Hard Rock Hotel’s Rehab pool on Sunday.
The arrests highlight the impact increased scrutiny is having on local hotel-casinos as regulators and police officials move to crack down on illegal and unsafe activity at the resortsу high-profile nightclubs and pool areas.
Jerry Markling, chief of enforcement for the state Gaming Control Board, however, noted that activities at pools and nightclubs at several hotel-casinos are being scrutinized, not just at the Hard Rock.
"I wouldn’t say we’re looking at the Hard Rock more so than anyone else," Markling said. "Metro is doing these operations at various locations and we work closely with Metro."
Gaming Control Board member Randall Sayre said in July that Gaming Control Board agents, with the help of Metro officers, could be investigating as many as nine hotel-casinos about activities inside their nightclubs and other amenities.
Metro spokesman Bill Cassell told the Review-Journal on Tuesday that the police have noticed an increase in narcotics- and prostitution-related violations at certain hotel pools.
Markling said the board’s agents work with the police on some operations and is in close communication with Metro on other incidents.
"If we hear of issues or problems or concerns, then we’ll investigate them," Markling said. "We’re reactionary as much as we are proactive. If we get complaints, we respond to those, and we try to alleviate receiving complaints by being proactive."
Sunday’s arrests at the Hard Rock came six weeks after 10 people were arrested at the Sapphire Pool at the Rio on similar charges.
The Rio, which is owned by Harrah’s Entertainment, promptly closed the pool and severed its relationship with Sapphire’s Gentlemen’s Club.
In April, Sayre issued a letter to casino licensees saying regulators were taking a closer look at operations at nightclubs, ultralounges and European pools to ensure the licensees are not acting "indifferent(ly) to the conduct or welfare of patrons."
"Weуre looking at all licensed entities," Markling said. "We’re just looking at all these things. We’ve been to many different pools and nightclubs. We continue to follow the dictates of Mr. Sayre’s admonitions and industry letters and look for those types of concerns."
The Gaming Control Board also plans to hold an informational seminar with casino operators Wednesday to discuss regulators’ concerns about operations at nightclubs, pool and spas, hotel and casino promotions, advertising and other issues.
A similar seminar is scheduled for Carson City on Sept. 21.
Sayre’s call for informational meetings with casino operators followed this summer’s action against the Planet Hollywood and the resort’s Prive nightclub, which is owned and operated by an outside company.
The Strip property agreed to pay a $500,000 fine to Nevada casino regulators for not properly overseeing operations at Prive. The nightclub had to answer a nine-count complaint brought by the state attorney general that included charges that nightclub employees were ejecting drunken customers and dumping them in the casino unattended or asking hotel security to remove them. Nightclub employees and patrons were also charged with physically and sexually assaulting customers, and serving alcohol to minors.
The nightclub was shut down for two weeks after the county pulled its temporary liquor license. The club is currently operating under a temporary liquor license.
The Hard Rock Hotel has been in trouble with gaming regulators in the past, too.
The property, then owned by founder Peter Morton, paid $100,000 in 2004 for using sexually suggestive advertising.
The original complaint included counts that said the ads reflected poorly on the gaming industry and Nevada, although those were dismissed by the state Gaming Commission.
Contact reporter Arnold M. Knightly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3893.