As regular readers know, I am a frequent critic of the Nevada Gaming Control Board for failing to use its considerable enforcement power to punish wrongdoing by casinos and their employees. I dislike the Board’s ability to legally operate in secret in most cases. I think transparency would be best for Nevada and best for the industry, because the fear of bad publicity might provide more incentive for top management to curb wrongdoing by casino employees. If errant employees were publicly named, the scorn and shame might make some think twice before engaging in wrongful or criminal behavior.
As it stands now, most investigations never get public scrutiny. Punishment by Gaming, when agreed to by the offending casino, is done in secret, private deals that never see the sunshine. This is not healthy for the industry, and is not healthy for the reputation of the Gaming Control Board. It would be appropriate for the Board and Nevada Gaming Commission to request that the legislature change the statutes permitting the Board to operate in secret, and instead impose the same openness that is required of most government agencies.
Be that as it may, I commend the Board for recently taking action against Treasure Island in Las Vegas. According to the details of the complaint, a patron arguably pulled a cheating move by removing a $500 bet after the cards were dealt in a mini-baccarat game. In the absence of more complete information, we cannot be sure it was a cheating move, but it is reasonable for the casino to believe it was cheating. Casino guards seized the patron and forcibly backroomed him, probably within their rights.
But what happened next is bizarre, and makes one wonder if this particular casino shift manager has a functioning brain. Instead of immediately notifying the Gaming Control Board and/or Metro police, as is legally required when casino security “detains” a person, the casino shift manager essentially committed a robbery of the patron. While the patron was handcuffed, casino employees rummaged through his pockets. The shift boss found five black Treasure Island chips and stole them from the patron. Then, the guards trespassed the patron and walked him out the door. No law enforcement involvement whatsoever. Instead, because of their “self-help,” it can be reasonably argued that the casino employees committed several felonies, including kidnapping and robbery. The possible cheater became a crime victim. No allegation of cheating was made with the authorities. The “detention,” use of force, kidnapping, and robbery of the patron became the crimes because of the abject stupidity of these casino employees.
Though the Board did not specifically address the felonies committed by the casino employees, it filed a complaint against Treasure Island for unsuitable method of operation. It would be in the best interest of the public to have casino employees individually prosecuted for crimes they commit, just as any other individual. But that is not likely to happen in the near future, absent a vicious beating administered by guards resulting in serious injury or death to a patron, or some similar circumstance that is too egregious for the usual cover-up.
Treasure Island quickly settled the complaint for a paltry $10,000 fine and agreeing to train its employees properly, which it should have done all along. Because this complaint became public, rather than the usual secret settlement, we can only assume TI refused to cooperate or admit its wrongdoing until the glare of bad publicity hit it right in its corporate nose. Suddenly it wanted to settle, and have the problem go away.
Posted on BJ21.com Green Chip:
… a fine of about $250,000 would have been more appropriate, but it’s interesting how quickly Treasure Island settled, and good to see Mr. Ruffin himself have to sign on its behalf. Ruffin cannot later claim he didn’t know how his employees behaved, though this settlement was carefully crafted to try to avoid any personal liability for Ruffin.
I wonder if the District Attorney will file robbery charges against the shift manager who stole the $500 from the illegally detained patron. It appears that the circumstances are strikingly similar to the robbery charge against O.J. Simpson that was prosecuted with such vigor. “Trying to recover his own allegedly stolen property,” use of force, illegal detention, etc. I see no real distinction between this and the Simpson robbery case.
The good news from this is that the Gaming Control Board took this seriously, even if the specific charges and the settlement were weak, and there apparently will not be any punishment for the shift manager. I think illegal detentions of advantage players might get some action from the Gaming Control Board in the future, if promptly called to the Board’s attention.
Though the penalty was too small, I think this is an important case for patron rights vs. casino abuse. I congratulate the Gaming Control Board for getting involved in a case that in the past it would ignore. Let’s hope for more Gaming involvement in false imprisonment cases.