Release of casino regulator’s letter on heels of nightclub fine isn’t coincidental

I’m not exactly sure, but I think Gaming Control Board member Randall Sayre put the entire casino industry on notice.

The language of Sayre’s July 21 letter addressed to “ALL LICENSEES AND INTERESTED PARTIES” seems clear enough. He not only calls into question the business practices of some unnamed licensees, but he also “invites” those licensees to join the control board in a proposal that would create “informal seminars covering our collective areas of concern.”

You know, get together for coffee. Have a chat, and, oh, by the way, about the drugs and prostitution flowing like a river at your nightclubs. Gotta take care of that.

While I wouldn’t claim to possess an expertise in gaming regulation or a comprehensive institutional memory of the casino business, I can say without hesitation I’ve never read anything like Sayre’s letter. (It’s available online at the control board’s Web site at

The casino regulator appears to be calling out the industry. Are appearances deceiving?

Control board members have gotten steamed when they think they’re getting the runaround from an individual licensee. Prospective casino operators who have failed to be forthcoming have had their heads handed to them on occasion. It’s not common, but I’ve seen control board members lose their tempers in meetings. Former control board members Gerald Cunningham and Bobby Siller weren’t shy about speaking their minds.

But I’ve never seen one send the entire industry a letter in essence calling operators a bunch of regulatory round heels who have forgotten they’re in a licensed and privileged industry. Sayre is more polite than that, of course.

“Either through lack of knowledge or apathy, licensees are creating regulatory challenges in areas requiring corrective action,” he writes.

No kidding.

He then listed “just a few” examples: “The conduct of promotions; Approval and conduct of tournaments and charitable events; Race and Sports Book Operations; Intellectual property theft, and Questionable and misleading advertising.”

Color me intrigued.

How many more examples are on Sayre’s master list?

I notice he wasn’t joined in the authorship of the letter by control board Chairman Dennis Neilander and member Mark Lipparelli. This might have an innocent explanation, but it makes me wonder if Sayre’s eating lunch by himself these days down at gaming control headquarters.

That’s not the only question raised by the letter. Its release on the heels of a $500,000 fine at Privé nightclub inside Planet Hollywood isn’t coincidental.

If I didn’t know better, I’d suspect the letter was written to help soften the blow of some pending regulatory and law enforcement investigations that promise to embarrass the casino industry.

The Privé investigation established that the club’s employees dumped drunken customers inside the casino. The employees were also suspected of physically and sexually assaulting patrons. It’s the kind of stuff county business license officials and the district attorney’s office should feast on.

Meanwhile, I’m waiting to see whether the IRS criminal investigation of Pure nightclub at Caesars Palace results in indictments.

Local sports betting insiders are still wondering what happened at the Palms race and sports book after the illegal bookmaking and money laundering operation of brothers Jeffrey and Michael Jelinsky was smashed by federal investigators. The diminutive Poker Palace in North Las Vegas was fined $250,000 for allowing illegal bookmakers to lay off their bets there.

Perhaps the most unintentionally entertaining moment in Sayre’s missive is his statement that casino licensees might have committed regulatory sins “through a lack of knowledge or apathy.”

How understanding of him.

The fact is that gaming licensees are put on notice when they receive their license that it’s a privilege. They hire gaming lawyers such as Frank Schreck and Robert Faiss, who helped write the state’s gaming regulations. Major gaming companies keep teams of CPAs and former members of local and federal law enforcement in their stables. Those companies also have compliance committees tasked with ensuring the regulations are followed.

There is, quite simply, no reasonable excuse for a major casino corporation to claim a “lack of knowledge,” and the fact they sublease their controversial nightclubs reeks of an attempt to establish plausible deniability.

That’s the trouble with Sayre’s letter. It talks a little bit tough, but then only suggests regulators and licensees get together for some “informal seminars” and only “depending upon industry interest.”

Far from laying down the law, Sayre is doing the casino industry a PR favor at a time it figures to need one.

John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. E-mail him at or call (702) 383-0295. He also blogs at

VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System hosts Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ
The 4th Annual Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ is held in celebration of Veterans Day at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System Medical Center in North Las Vegas, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wildfires in Southern California
Wildfires hit Ventura County, Calif., on Nov. 9, 2018. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dedication of Nevada's Battle Born memorial
The state of Nevada on Friday dedicated its Battle Born memorial honoring 895 state residents who have died in America’s wars.
Las Vegas police and Sunrise Children's Hospital hope to prevent infant deaths
The Metropolitan Police Department and Sunrise Children's Hospital held a press conference to get the message out on preventable infant deaths attributed to "co-sleeping" and other unsafe sleeping habits. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
No serious injuries after car hits tree in south Las Vegas
One person reported minor injuries but wasn’t hospitalized after a Wednesday morning crash in the south valley.
Nellis Air Force Base keeps airmen fed
Nellis Air Force Bass airmen have delicious and healthy food items, and a variety of dining facilities to choose from. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Las Vegas police determined that a suspicious package found Monday morning at a central valley post office was not a threat.
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Police evacuated the area around the Garside Station post office early Monday morning near Oakey and Decatur boulevards.
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
Las Vegas family shares flu warning
Carlo and Brenda Occhipinti lost their son, Carlo Jr., or “Junior,” to the flu last year.
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Stadust Raceway
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Dan Blocker, who played Hoss Cartwright on the TV show "Bonanza," and the actor's passion for auto racing at Stardust International Raceway in Las Vegas during the 1960s. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal.)
Project Neon 85 percent complete
On Wednesday morning Oct. 31, Interstate 15 northbound lane restrictions were removed opening up Exit 41 to Charleston Blvd. On Thursday Nov. 1, Interstate 15 southbound lane restrictions were removed. The new southbound off-ramp to Sahara Ave. and Highland Dr. also opened Thursday, November 1. With Project Neon 85% finished the flow of traffic on Interstate 15 has substantially diminished. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Girl killed after jumping from bridge onto 215 Beltway in Henderson
Eastbound lanes of the 215 Beltway are shut down by the Nevada Highway Patrol after a female juvenile jumped from the 215 overpass at Stephanie and was struck by a FedEx tractor trailer. Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Vegas88s
Kristallnacht story
An interview with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Alexander Kuechel who survived seven concentration camps and didn’t leave Germany until after World War II was over. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1 dead in central Las Vegas crash
An early Wednesday morning crash left at least one person dead and another injured. The crash was reported just around 3 a.m. at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Swenson Street. At least two vehicles were involved in the crash, one of which caught fire. Debris was scattered across the intersection as police combed the area as they investigated the scene. Flamingo is blocked in both directions between Swenson and Cambridge Street. Northbound Swenson is blocked at the intersection.
Richard Knoeppel named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year
Richard Knoeppel, an architecture design instructor at the Advanced technologies Academy, named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mojave Poppy Bees
(Zach Portman/University of Minnesota Department of Entomology) Male Mojave poppy bees exhibit territorial fighting behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity wants the bee, found only in Clark County, to be added to the endangered species list.
Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance blood drive on October 1
A blood drive was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the one year anniversary of the Oct. 1 shooting. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance Lights memorial unveiled at St. Rose hospital
A dedication ceremony was held at St. Rose to unveil a memorial and to read the names of those who died on October 1, a year ago. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like