THE BEAR GROWLS
Long-time Las Vegas-based advantage player, casino critic, and frequentBJ21.com contributor LVBear offers his opinions on things that sometimes go wrong in the world of casinos. Current and past growls can be read, and comments posted, at LVBear's website, TheBearGrowls.com .
The Bear Growls: More legal trouble for Harrah’s — $1 million verdict over firing of security guard
It’s been a tough week for Harrah’s. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving company. First all the criminal charges in Las Vegas, now a million dollar verdict for wrongful termination of a security guard.
Though I disagree with Missouri’s absurd $500 "loss limit," the actions of Harrah’s supervisors were stupid and arrogant. There certainly were better ways to educate the guard to not hassle patrons over petty things. Surprisingly, the unimaginative supervisor who apparently caused the mess, Robert Green, wasn’t fired by Harrah’s. Instead, he was reportedly transferred to the Showboat in Atlantic City.
Harrah’s is truly a disgusting, sickening organization. I will be happy the day it collapses from the weight of its own constant wrongdoing.
Congratulations to attorney Kevin Baldwin of Baldwin & Vernon in Liberty, MO for successfully handling this case.
Good news! Columbia Sussex forced by regulators to sell Tropicana Atlantic City
From my point of view, Columbia Sussex is perhaps the worst casino operator in existence, even including Harrah’s. At least Harrah’s has a fairly generous comp system that can be profitably exploited; Columbia Sussex has mostly garbage games as well as a garbage comp system.
New Jersey gaming regulators on Wednesday removed Columbia Sussex Corp. as the operator of the Tropicana in Atlantic City, leaving in question the company’s standing in Nevada, where it owns six hotel-casinos.
The New Jersey Casino Control Commission declined to renew the operating license for Fort Mitchell, Ky.-based Columbia Sussex, saying the company failed to meet the state’s strict licensing requirements.
In a statement, commissioners, who rejected a recommendation by the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement to give Columbia Sussex a one-year temporary license, said the company showed, "a lack of business ability, a lack of financial responsibility and lack of good character, honesty and integrity."
The casino will remain open under a trustee’s supervision. Columbia Sussex, however, will have to seek a buyer, commission spokesman Dan Heneghan said.
In Las Vegas, Columbia Sussex operates the Tropicana and The Westin. The company also owns the River Palms and Tropicana Express in Laughlin and the MontBleu and Horizon in Lake Tahoe.
Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander said Wednesday that state regulators had been monitoring the events in New Jersey. Gaming agents have stepped up a presence in Nevada casinos operated by Columbia Sussex, but internal audits have not found any "material violations" of Nevada gaming regulations, Neilander said.
"We’re going to take a look at what New Jersey had done in more detail," Neilander said. "There can be ramifications for a company conducting gaming outside of Nevada that has shown to have willfully violated gaming regulations."
Though I doubt that the worthless Nevada Gaming Control Board will actually do anything, at least it claims to be looking at the feeble Nevada operations of this awful company.
Gaming agents have stepped up a presence in Nevada casinos operated by Columbia Sussex …Because the usual presence is ZERO, one agent visiting one property would make the statement accurate.
It is terrific to see a gaming board actually take action against an inferior operator that is bringing discredit to an industry that so often brings discredit and shame upon itself. Congratulations to the New Jersey Casino Control Commission for standing up to a casino. Do-nothing Nevada Chairman Dennis Neilander and the other casino lackeys on the Nevada Gaming Control Board should take lessons from their counterparts in New Jersey.
It would be nice to see Nevada take action to strip Columbia-Sussex of its Nevada gaming license and run these sleazeballs out of the state, forcing the sale of its six poorly-managed Nevada casinos. Unlikely to happen, but let’s hope.
Harrah’s criminal charges and Tropicana license revocation - are honest government officials finally waking up?
In the same week that Clark County filed seventeen criminal charges against Harrah’s employees or contractors in the remodeling scandal, New Jersey regulators refused to renew the Tropicana’s gaming license. Congratulations to Clark County Manager Virginia Valentine and the members of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission for doing the right thing, despite undoubtedly heavy political pressure to sweep it all under the rug.
I think both are major events. In the past, casinos have usually gotten a "free pass" when shown to have engaged in various types of wrongdoing. A slap on the wrist, or no penalty at all, just being told "don’t do it again," has been the norm. It has taken civil action by the aggrieved parties to see any semblance of justice meted out.
Have the many successful civil suits against casinos for patron abuse had any effect on the overall view held by the authorities? Have the people in government who are honorable and not in the pockets of the casino industry begun to see that not everyone thinks casinos should control the government and get away with whatever they want? Or am I being too optimistic — these two cases are isolated events, and it’ll otherwise be business as usual, especially in things related to patron abuse?
The Bear Growls: Are Las Vegas police finally interested in the Harrah’s crimes?
But now Las Vegas police may be getting interested in his take on events. Detectives from the department’s criminal intelligence section spent an hour with him Nov. 27, talking about the hotel remodeling projects. The session was tape-recorded, according to Frazzetta, who blew the proverbial whistle on the hotel code infractions.
Workers at the Flamingo Las Vegas cannibalized a piece of safety equipment on one guest floor to obtain a part so another floor would pass a fire inspection, according to a carpenter who gave a statement to the county Fire Department on Thursday. John Houk, one of the man’s supervisors, was suspended Friday, pending investigation, Marybel Batjer, a Harrah’s Entertainment spokeswoman, said Friday evening.
One rejection of public safety standards could be considered an aberration. Two incidents within the same company might be a coincidence. But three violations of a similar nature? That’s trouble.
With the new allegations about recent wrongdoing at Flamingo, it is imperative that police take action to try to stop these guest-safety crimes from continuing. The arrest, prosecution, and prison sentences after conviction of the responsible Harrah’s executives would be a good start. Do we need another hotel fire to kill dozens of tourists before meaningful action is taken?
Harrah’s has repeatedly demonstrated its disregard for the law and disregard for the safety of its guests and employees. The ongoing exposing of wrongdoing by more than one courageous whistleblower highlights a corporate mentality of thumbing the corporate nose at the safety regulations that exist to protect the very people whose wallets Harrah’s tries so hard to empty. It is ironic that Harrah’s doesn’t seem to care about the safety of the very people it fleeces with its mostly lousy, ripoff games. Maybe that’s what happens when a company gets so bloated that most government officials are too cowardly to take a stand against it. Let’s hope there are a couple of honest Metro detectives who are not afraid, not corruptible, and will push for the proper criminal action to be taken.
The Bear Growls: Las Vegas TV reporter calls brain-using casino patrons cheaters — says they "stole" money from casinos. TV station subsequently admits error, apologizes
Las Vegas television Channel 8 KLAS-TV aired a report on the recent gaming expo. But reporter Edward Lawrence badly misstated facts. It would be laughable, if the report wasn’t so outrageous, slanderous and defamatory to people who have studied blackjack (and other casino games) and learned how to play correctly.
Inthe written article accompanying the TV news clip, Mr. Lawrence claims card counters "cheated" casinos. In his verbal report, he says they "stole" money from casinos. Of course, as even casino executives know, card counting is just using one’s brain; it has nothing to do with cheating. Certainly no one has "stolen" anything by merely using his or her brain while playing a casino game under the rules and conditions offered by the casino itself.
In both pieces, Mr. Lawrence subsequently mentions that card counting is not illegal, indicating that he probably is not as ignorant as his previous references to cheating and stealing make him appear. One has to wonder if Mr. Lawrence was put up to making his moronic comments by someone else; if so, did his integrity take a leave of absence?
Channel 8’s news supervisors and editors should be embarrassed and ashamed that they let such a poorly worded story onto the air and into cyberspace. Shame on Mr. Lawrence, and shame on Channel 8.
Subsequent to the above posting, an email was sent byBJ21.com to the reporter and his superiors at Channel 8, as part of a discussion on Green Chip about the story. Channel 8 responded appropriately. Congratulations to Channel 8 management, in particular Vice President of News Operations Bob Stoldal, for doing the right thing:
The buck stops with me.
We, as Mr. Lawrence works for me, we were incorrect. The people that have the mental ability to count cards are NOT cheaters nor did they steal anything.
I have tried card counting, and do not have the mental capacity to do it.
I am sorry I did not correct this before we broadcast the story or before we put it on the internet. I am pulling both the video story and the text.
I have been a resident of Las Vegas since 1957 and know the different between card counting and cheating.
You are correct; I am "embarrassed." Ashamed? A bit strong. Also, Mr. Lawrence is not a moron; he is a hard working reporter who made a mistake. He did say at the end of his story it is not illegal to count cards.
Minor point, but Mr. Lawrence did not use the word "cheated" in his story that appeared on the web version. There was no way for you to know that. That said, what it means is the mistake was compounded on the internet.
But, bottom line, you are correct story should not have used the words "cheated," or "stole." I will pull the story, and appreciate you taking the time to help correct our, my, error
Bob Stoldal VP News KLAS
The Bear Growls: Police and casino security assault elderly woman. Don’t they ever learn?
From the articleGreat Grandmother Strip-Searched At N.Y. Casino:
Meanwhile, she says she was taken to a room and interrogated by a man she says turned out to be a plain clothes state trooper who then accused her of hiding the winning slip, in an apparent scam to get another.
One has to wonder if there is no crime in Yonkers, giving a state police officer time to waste on something as stupid as this. The bad news is that it is probably going to be harder to recover damages from the public agency than it would be if some casino security morons did it on their own, instead of in concert with a public employee moron.
This brings up an interesting question. Assuming the reporter got the facts correct, if a state police officer took the woman into custody ("taken to a room"), on what basis did the officer turn over the arrestee/"detainee"(?) to a private security guard to do a strip search?
The casino’s defense likely will be, "The police forced security to do it." Of course, that lame excuse didn’t stand up in the Imperial Palace/Grosjean case, where the casino guards tried to blame Gaming Control agents, claiming the Gaming agents ordered the guards to attack, kidnap, and falsely imprison Mr. Grosjean.
Mind-boggling. I hope this lady gets millions.
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