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About The Bear

LV Bear is a longtime advantage player based in Las Vegas with extensive knowledge of the gaming industry.

The comments were originally made in the free BJ21.com newsletter and/or the Green Chip member pages. Some of the comments were also published in the bjinsider.com newsletter.

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The Bear Growls: Reno bums and street people

By LVBear | December 14, 2010

Reno is getting worse in that even in good weather such as the last few days, bums are coming in off the streets to suck up free drinks in the sportsbooks that do not closely police their “drink tickets.” Recently, in a large sportsbook, I watched as two drunken bums argued and almost fought over a disputed call in a football game being shown on the big screen. It was hilarious, because obviously they had more important things to worry about in life than a football game.

I think the casinos do not really know how to handle the bums. Security is often too stupid to tell the difference between a street person and a legitimate patron who dresses like a bum, but really is a customer who likes to sit in the sportsbook all day and yell at football games. Resources have to be devoted to ferret out one from the other. Having many street people present, especially bad-smelling ones, annoys patrons. But throwing out large numbers of people may result in a few patrons being thrown out for no reason other than dressing badly. That could happen to me. :>)

I don’t know the solution, but I know the problem is getting worse. Harrah’s is probably the worst right now, with bums coming in off the Second Street entrance just east of the book. Harrah’s is challenging perennial leader Cal-Neva. Sands Regency always has bums hanging around; Peppermill is right up there as well, with Eldorado, Atlantis, and Grand Sierra in the running. Grand Sierra is a surprise, because it is quite a walk from anywhere bums usually congregate; maybe they take a shuttle from downtown? But Grand Sierra is so large they can seemingly become invisible inside the cavernous facility, and avoid scrutiny by security. Or a few bums can pool their money together and buy a $30,000 condo at The Summit, that was attempted to be sold for $400,000 a few years ago.

JA Nugget has few, almost no bums hanging out, nor does Boomtown. Of course, Boomtown, with its latest downgrade of table games, could use some bums — the bums might play at higher stakes than the few remaining patrons, and make the place look less deserted.

Just like dealing with casino employees, it is important not to antagonize these folks. Some may not be playing with a full deck, so to speak. Some may be drunk, others just plain mean and dangerous. I was accosted by one outside Sands Regency a couple of trips ago. My yelling at him and brandishing a can of pepper spray resulted in his quick retreat. Be careful out there.

Topics: Boomtown, Cal-Neva, Grand Sierra, Harrah's, John Ascuaga's Nugget, Peppermill, Reno, Sands Regency, Sports Betting | No Comments »

The Bear Growls: Casino industry swallows up Clark County Manager

By LVBear | December 8, 2010

Virginia Valentine

County manager stepping down to lead Resort Association

Virginia Valentine, our well-respected, hardworking county manager has sold out. I am shocked and saddened — no sarcasm here, I really thought Ms. Valentine was an honest, hardworking public servant, one of few in our county.

My real disappointment is with the loss of a competent and honest public employee. We certainly need more of those in Clark County. From my observations, she helped reduce the power of the many crooks entrenched in county government. Her departure surprised me, as I didn’t think she was as susceptible to the cushy offerings of the casino industry as are many. I thought her integrity level was higher. I was wrong. She went the way of her predecessor, who took a plush, do-nothing job at Harrah’s (director of philanthropy), as did our former mayor (director of government relations). For what past favors were these bloated jobs created?

Some “career changes” from government to the casino industry are obvious and accepted in Nevada. Gaming Control Board members and “retired” police officials routinely receive their payoffs from the casino industry in the form of cushy jobs.

I understand that Ms. Valentines’ pay will probably double or triple. But it’s unfortunate that ethics and commitment to responsibilities go into the dumpster when offered a better deal by dubious suitors, just as Sarah Palin morphed from an obscure governor of an obscure state into a millionaire by happenstance, starting by quitting her government job mid-term. The fact that Ms. Palin is incompetent and Ms. Valentine is competent is beside the point; the similarities exist, on a smaller scale for our departing County Manager.

I am sure Ms. Valentine will do a good job and will be a benefit to her new casino bosses. But I am disappointed in her apparent lack of character. For the county and state as a whole, I think Ms. Valentine is more valuable and effective as a fighter against crookedness in county government than she will be as an advocate for an industry that already controls all levels of government in Nevada, and gets whatever it wants. There’s not much she can add to what the casino industry already gets.

Shame on Virginia Valentine.

Topics: Casino Executives, Government Corruption, Las Vegas, Nevada Politics | No Comments »

The Bear Growls: Metro Officer William Mosher — the worst of the worst?

By LVBear | October 6, 2010


Officer William Mosher – Link to another photo

Coroner’s Jury: Officers justified in fatally shooting Erik Scott outside Summerlin Costco

The Metro shooting problem is a serious matter for all of us who live in or visit Las Vegas. Metro is largely an out-of-control gang of thugs. Officer William Mosher, who has killed twice in just five years on the department, may be the worst of the worst. In his testimony in the recent Coroner’s Inquest regarding the shooting of Costco customer/prescription drug user Erik Scott, Mosher came across as an uneducated buffoon. He sounded like a seventh-grade dropout.

Mosher appears to be a robot-like individual who lacks common sense, lacks the ability to make rational decisions rather than just bully people, and someone apparently so insecure with himself that he has to evoke the “tough cop” bully-boy act. Mosher is a frightening individual who should have been taken off the streets by his supervisors long ago. I would hate to have him in my neighborhood. It would be terrible to call 911 and have Mosher show up. How Mosher was allowed to be out there endangering the public day after day is a scary mystery. I think Las Vegas would be a safer place if Officer Mosher was in prison. He is still on “paid administrative leave.” I predict that if he is allowed to return to active duty, he will kill again.

As expected, the coroner’s inquest was a dog and pony show. One of the doctors who treated the decedent during his lifetime behaved as if she thought she was the star of a reality show, or an aging actress auditioning for a potential comeback part, with perfect hair and several big, bright smiles showing off her perfect white teeth. She described her medical practice as a “concierge” practice. It’s as if the solemnity of this hearing was completely lost on her. To her credit, she appeared to be a caring physician, though her demeanor made her appear to be a bimbo.

The Costco security guy (“loss prevention supervisor”), Shai Lierley, who called 911, is even stupider than a typical casino security guard. He repeatedly used security jargon in his testimony, possibly thinking it made him appear important. In reality, he was pathetic. He misused the term “customer service” two or three times in his testimony. Finally, one of the attorneys, or perhaps it was the judge, asked him to clarify what he meant. The Costco bean counters should start saving money for the eventual civil verdict. Having Lierley in charge of anything will not be helpful to Costco — “Negligent hiring, training, and supervision” will undoubtedly be included in the lawsuit against Costco. Lierley is the true catalyst of the tragic events that transpired.

Various “experts” who testified about the efforts to “recover” the missing video did not seem to know much about their supposed areas of expertise, including a woman from the Secret Service. One fool’s “credentials” essentially were having worked on a “help desk” of a computer company. If not so tragic, the whole thing would be laughable. The only competent-appearing person who testified that day was Detective Pete Calos, a Metro homicide investigator.

The computer that controlled the video camera that was positioned to perfectly record the incident supposedly stopped working on July 8, two days before the killing. But it was not promptly repaired or replaced, supposedly because the service tech “most familiar with Costco” was “on vacation.” It was to be repaired the Monday after the killing. However, a civilian Metro employee testified that all he had to do to get it to work was reboot the computer. In fact, they showed video from that camera (one of numerous cameras) recorded about four hours after the killing. The guy in charge of the cameras was the idiotic Lierley.

Metro supposedly made no effort to seize the allegedly faulty computer, instead letting a little mom-and-pop computer shop in Las Vegas (the one with the tech on vacation) try to “repair” it first. The chain of custody was destroyed. There was no accountability as to who had custody of the computer when. Total incompetence by Metro.

There was absolutely no need to escalate the situation as the responding officers did. The decedent hadn’t really done much except allegedly act weird in the store. There was conflicting testimony about whether or not he was even asked to leave the store. From the medical examiner’s testimony and the Costco security idiot’s testimony, the decedent may have been “high” on drugs at the time of his death. But the decedent was accustomed to heavy doses of prescription drugs, so may not have been high at all. If he was in fact high, he should not have been carrying weapons in his alleged condition, concealed permit or not. But he did not pose a realistic threat to anyone until the police made horrible tactical errors, confronting Scott in a crowd with guns drawn when all Scott was doing was peacefully, though reportedly unsteadily, walking out the front door of Costco along with the hundreds of other people being evacuated. The evacuation was another stupid move by Metro; there was no need for it.

Metro really blew this one. I wish the coroner’s jury had understood how stupidly Metro handled the situation. Metro’s tragic mishandling of the entire situation was glossed over by District Attorney David Roger’s staff members who presented the case. Sadly, once Metro created the situation, the result was inevitable. A bit of common sense used by three directly-involved officers could have avoided the confrontation and subsequent killing. Mosher, the senior officer among the three, knew better than to do what he did. He testified that he has had crisis intervention training. Why he chose to ignore this training and risk the lives of innocent bystanders in the stupid way he confronted Scott is beyond my comprehension. Mosher could easily have defused the situation by calming down Lierley and momentarily ignoring Scott; instead, he chose to escalate the situation. Why Mosher behaved this way will forever be between him and his conscience, assuming he has a conscience.

Sadly, it took the jurors only about an hour to arrive at the “Justifiable” verdict. It is an interesting footnote that the two seemingly best jurors, who indicated an understanding of the evidence by their questions of various witnesses, were among three that were “randomly” dismissed from the panel after testimony ended. Though the dismissal (before deliberations begin) of all remaining jurors in excess of seven is the standard procedure in coroner’s inquests, I am curious as to how the “random” selections are made, and will attempt to find out. This seems like an easy way to stack the jury after seeing which ones appear to be skeptical of the police case, and dismissing them.

I doubt if the jurors understood the concept of gross negligence being criminal. It was not in the jury instructions. The brief county code section that deals with coroner’s inquests provides little guidance. Most is probably “tribal knowledge” among the DA’s office and police.

My verdict would have been criminal against Mosher, excusable against the other two officers, assuming a split verdict is even possible. This, too, is not addressed in the code or DA-prepared jury instructions.

I think the Sheriff would probably like to fire Mosher, but is in a bad spot. If Mosher is fired, or even disciplined, it looks bad in the soon-to-be-filed civil case. If Mosher is left on the streets, he will likely kill again. Time will tell. At the very least, I hope the Sheriff puts Mosher on permanent desk duty.

Costco would probably like to fire the loss prevention clown Lierley. But the same problem the Sheriff has applies to Costco. It’ll be tough to fire Lierley now. More than any other person, Lierley has the blood on his hands for this tragedy, through his overzealousness and abject stupidity. Bully Boy Mosher (“let’s pick a fight instead of using my training to defuse this situation”) is a close second to Lierley.

… when the three officers took the stand to testify at the inquest, they said they were never drug- or alcohol-tested after the shooting.

Steve Sisolak, who appears to be a corruption-free County Commissioner, as well as the most level-headed and responsible person currently sitting on the Commission (and is the Commissioner for my District) has proposed drug-testing for officers who shoot people. This would be at least a tiny start towards cleaning up the horrible mess at Metro. Predictably, Chris Collins, the police apologist who heads their union, has publicly stated the police union is against drug testing of officers who shoot people. Disturbing and frightening.

————————————————————

What does this case have to do with advantage play or casinos?
Most of us who have played for a while have had hassles with casino security. We know casino security guards are usually not the brightest bulbs on the tree. Many are among society’s misfits, and have a propensity for gratuitous violence. If casino guards choose to involve the police in whatever dispute they have with a patron, the patron is at the mercy of whatever tales the security people tell the police. Thus, having police routinely believe any story of the guards instead of assessing a situation for themselves is dangerous. When police fail to assess for themselves, as in the case of Officer Mosher’s failure to use good judgment and instead just take the word of a security person, the result can be tragic. This terrible case hits closer to home than many of us might realize at first glance.

Topics: Erik Scott, Government Corruption, Las Vegas, Las Vegas Law Enforcement, Nevada Judicial Cases, Nevada Politics, Police | No Comments »

The Bear Growls: John Ascuaga’s Nugget tells employees to lie to patrons

By LVBear | August 12, 2010

We all know lying to the public is part of a normal day for many front-line casino employees. Dealers lie about 6 to 5 blackjack not being as bad as it is, reservations agents lie about the hotel being sold out, pit supervisors lie about not being able to issue certain comps. All of that is expected, and is an unfortunate part of a business whose main function is to extract money from its customers while offering nothing in return.

However, when employees are specifically told by their supervisors to lie about government regulations, the lying has gone too far. See the complaint below, recently filed with the Nevada Gaming Control Board, and originally published on BJ21.com’s Green Chip. For those unfamiliar with the Reno area, JA Nugget is a large, successful casino in Sparks. I like the Nugget, and am dismayed to learn about this despicable practice. If the facts are as stated, let’s hope Gaming agrees that the lying has gone too far, and takes appropriate action to punish the Nugget and the dishonest employees involved:

Complaint for violation of Regulation 5.010 by John Ascuaga’s Nugget

On August 6, 2010, player’s club employee (name deleted here, but is in the complaint) stated that “Gaming regulations” require John Ascuaga’s Nugget to scan a patron’s identification into its computer system before a player’s card can be issued. Obviously, there is no such regulation. When questioned further about it, (the employee) said, “That’s what our supervisors told us to say when someone asks.”

If this employee was being truthful, the supervisors essentially instructed their employees to lie to the public. It is bad enough that the odious practice of copying identification by scanning has become so prevalent, to the detriment of the gaming public. Certainly it is within a licensee’s rights to set such a requirement as a policy or condition of receiving a player’s card. But a licensee instructing frontline employees to outright lie about non-existent government regulations to try to convince patrons to permit such scanning appears to be an unsuitable method of operation, in violation of Regulation 5.010.

Thank you for looking into this matter. Please advise me of the result, to the degree that you are able.

UPDATE 8/23/10:

An Agent interviewed the player’s club representative and her supervisors. The boothling admitted to telling the lie about the Gaming regulation to the patron, but denied that she said she was instructed to do so by her supervisors. The supervisors denied ever telling anyone to quote a non-existent Gaming regulation. The Gaming agent issued an informal warning to the boothling. The casino will not be penalized.

I think the situation was handled fairly and reasonably. Though there is a good chance that the supervisors did in fact tell the boothling to lie to patrons, it cannot be proven without an inordinate amount of investigative time for the issue involved. I think word will quickly spread around the Nugget that lying about Gaming is taken seriously, and the misconduct will stop.

If anyone else is told this story at the Nugget, please email me with details including the name of the employee, date, time, and circumstances.

Topics: Casino Executives, John Ascuaga's Nugget, Nevada Gaming Control Board, Reno | No Comments »

Bear Praise: Gaming Control Board settles Treasure Island false imprisonment case

By LVBear | July 23, 2010

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.

Topics: Bear Praise, Casino Executives, Las Vegas, Nevada Gaming Control Board, Treasure Island | 2 Comments »

Can Las Vegas learn from Atlantic City? Eastern USA and Canada trip report

By LVBear | May 26, 2010

It has long been a goal of mine to visit every state. Prior to this trip, I had been in every state except Delaware and the six New England states. I have now been to all fifty. The main purpose of this trip was business in Toronto; the tour through the seven states was just to finish off that project.

I lived the first eight years of my life in Indiana; thereafter, in California, Arizona, and Nevada. I don’t like cold weather, don’t care for large clumps of trees (“forests”), and am not particularly interested in visiting old historical sites or rundown buildings. If you reside in the northeast, please take my criticisms of your part of the country with those facts in mind. No offense is intended to my friends or anyone else who, for whatever reason, is forced to or chooses to live in the northeast.

I think we should give New England to “old” England, and include New York and Delaware in the package. Or see if Canada would like to annex that area. I simply found those states to be uninhabitable, particularly in view of the fact that they are covered with horrible snow part of the time. During my visit, the weather was beautiful, but just the thought of snow made me cringe. The traffic was bad enough, and the drivers are crazy enough that in snow I cannot imagine what happens, except that it is probably a constant cleanup of traffic accidents.

My three main gripes regarding driving in New England: The lack of coordination of traffic signals, the toll roads, and the bad drivers. I realize most of the traffic control systems are probably fifty years old, but to have to sit through entire cycles of left-turn arrows when there are no cars turning left is absurd. Why can’t they modernize the systems? And the toll roads — how can such stupidity exist? Why not just raise license plate fees a few dollars, or raise the gasoline tax a few cents per gallon, and do away with the nuisance of the toll roads? Bridge crossing is silly as well; I had to pay five dollars to cross the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York – ridiculous.

A place that was a pleasant surprise: Atlantic City. I expected it to be a bum-infested slum, but I felt safer there at night than in downtown Reno. The Boardwalk is nice, the casinos nicer than expected (except for the blackjack, of course), and the streets surrounding the casino areas not as bad as expected. I feel more danger on East 4th Street in Reno, or anywhere inside the Cal-Neva in Reno, than I did anywhere I went in Atlantic City.

Atlantic City service people were a pleasant surprise as well. Everyone we dealt with was top notch. I did not expect this at all. Las Vegas could learn from the service-oriented people in Atlantic City. I did not play any casino games, so I cannot comment on the dealers or the special breed of Atlantic City ploppies I’ve been told about, but the hotel desk employees, valet parkers, restaurant wait staff, hotel maids, etc. were all pleasant, polite, and efficient. All spoke English, another improvement over Las Vegas.

Other Atlantic City observations: The apparently-standard $5 valet parking fee is ridiculous, though I was able to avoid it with proper-level player’s cards. Our suite at Harrah’s was nice, but a few oddities: The sink and toilet are black, which was weird, and the floor is wood, which also felt weird. Apparently as part of some water conservation idea, the shower water turns off automatically every two minutes or so and comes back on a few seconds later. The windows were covered on the outside by ugly screens, which distorted the beautiful view of the water. The screens should be removed. Other than those issues, Harrah’s was nicer than expected. On a weekday morning at 10 am, the buffet was inexplicably closed, but the coffee shop was good.

Another surprise was that Harrah’s is overrun with hookers. When my wife and I checked in at about 2 am, there were more prostitutes milling around than there were casino patrons. It was as if there was a hooker convention there. In a bit of hooker comedy, in front of us at the check-in line (only one clerk on duty at that time of night), a young man was trying to find out why his room key no longer worked, with a hooker standing about ten feet away, listening. Finally, he turned away from the desk clerk, and said to the hooker, “We’ve been evicted.” The hooker, apparently not as bright as she was otherwise well-endowed, replied, “What does that mean?” They walked away together, while he explained it to her.

In Philadelphia, we enjoyed a terrific dinner at Famous Dave’s BBQ. I was disappointed to later learn that it’s a chain. I thought we had stumbled upon a great mom-and-pop restaurant. A sign outside announced that the restaurant was “Built 100% by union labor.” I wonder why that would be important to customers. Apparently management believes it is. The place was busy and good, so who am I to argue with management’s decision to put up what I thought was a silly sign.

After a brief visit to Wilmington, Delaware, we spent an hour on the I-295 bridge crossing into New Jersey because of lane closures for roadway repairs. We would find a lot of roadway repairs on our trip; apparently there are only a few months in the year where road work can be done because of the otherwise terrible weather. A silly thing noticed in several states: Police cars with lights flashing parked at construction zones. I don’t think all of them even had officers in them; maybe cardboard cutouts of officers, like Metro used to do in Searchlight, Nevada. (Maybe Metro had a blow-up doll of an officer, I don’t remember.) If there really were officers in those cars, it was a waste of taxpayer money. I didn’t see a single motorist receiving a ticket for speeding through the construction zone, so no revenue was being generated by having those police cars sitting there.

In New Jersey, we went the scenic way, US 40 to Atlantic City. We went through many small villages that seemed to have no purpose for their existence. In one of them, there was an unusual little arena featuring a statue of a religious figure, “Father Pio.”
http://www.padrepioshrine.org/history.htm

After an overnight stay in Atlantic City, we ventured north on the Garden State Parkway. What a nice roadway. I particularly liked the rest areas in the middle of the road, accessible from both directions. They were clean, well-maintained, with good stores. An unusual feature I had never seen before was unisex public restrooms. From out of the past was an area with many pay phones.

We decided to avoid New York City entirely. A Green Chip member who we had breakfast with in Atlantic City gave us a good route to avoid the core of the Rotten Apple. My wife had recently been to New York City and said she never wants to go there again. Though I have not been there for years, I also never want to go there again, so around it we went.

Heading north into Connecticut, we stopped in Stamford, a hardscrabble town that has seen better days. We enjoyed watching some kids practicing hockey in a nice indoor arena that was part of a municipal park. It’s very late in the hockey season; maybe they play year-round there?

Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun Casinos were impressive, other than their mostly-lousy games. I was surprised at the lack of adequate signage approaching them from I-395. There seemed to be a lack of billboards throughout the region, which is unfortunate, because billboards would brighten up the place and relieve some of the monotony of miles and miles of nothing to look at but trees.

Providence, Rhode Island was nicer than I expected. The downtown area was clean and the place appeared to have community pride. It reminded me of downtown Milwaukee.

In Peabody, Massachusetts, we watched through a window at closing time as two police officers got a giant free bag of doughnuts from a Dunkin’ Donuts. It was hilarious to watch, because of the humorous stereotype of police officers and doughnuts. I was later told by a friend that “Peabody” is not pronounced as it would appear, but instead “PeeBUDee.” It seems so many towns in the northeast have weird pronunciations of their names.

New Hampshire is a state that would probably not even be missed if it fell into the ocean. The first highway exit when entering the state on I-95 is amusing: “Liquor Next Exit.” I later found it has something to do with stupid restrictions on liquor sales in Massachusetts, causing Mass. residents to sometimes drive to New Hampshire to buy liquor. Didn’t that nonsense go out with Prohibition? I guess not.

There is nothing I found in New Hampshire worth visiting. On the other hand, I was surprised to learn that Dartmouth College is located in the tree-infested, literally backwoods town of Hanover. Perhaps I missed some things on our quick pass-through.

We spent a night in York, Maine at a motel called the Microtel Inn and Suites.
http://www.yorkmicrotel.com
It was interesting. I had never been to a Microtel before; everything is “micro” size; the room was about the size of a closet, but clean and functional. Maybe the “suites” are the size of normal rooms. We had tried two national chains — I think they were Days Inn and Rodeway Inn– but their offices were closed for the night. Yes, some places in this area actually close for the night. Not “Ring the bell and the sleepy resident manager responds” type of closed, but closed, period. If you don’t get your room by 11 pm or midnight, well, too bad — sleep in your car. I had never seen a motel that doesn’t accept check-ins twenty-four hours a day. A nasty thing about this part of Maine is that the water feels slimy and unclean, like Biloxi water. I think it’s called “soft” water. I’ll take good old Las Vegas “hard” water anytime.

Vermont was my fiftieth state; a totally forgettable place. I think it last welcomed a tourist in about 1900. We went up I-91 towards Canada, stopping in a dumpy little village for deli sandwiches. When I tipped the woman who made our sandwiches, instead of “Thank you,” she muttered, “Ummm hmmm.” Welcome to Vermont!

Crossing the border into Quebec was no trouble, unlike four years ago when we were hassled and our car and luggage searched when trying to enter Canada near Winnipeg. This time we were the only car, and were politely waved through after a couple of simple questions.

My favorite place of the trip was Quebec City, a beautiful old city. Though Quebec Province is primarily French-speaking, everyone we encountered knew a reasonable amount of English. Everyone was welcoming and friendly. I regret that we didn’t have more time to explore this place. It is the only city on the entire trip, besides Atlantic City, that I would consider for a return visit in the future.

We saw part of Montreal, which was disappointingly gritty, and Ottawa, before reaching our destination, Toronto. Toronto appeared bigger than Los Angeles, and similarly spread out. However, it was cleaner and more pleasant than Los Angeles. We conducted our business there and had a fine dinner at the Toronto Marriott Downtown Eaton Centre Hotel. http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/yyzec-toronto-marriott-downtown-eaton-centre/

On the way to Toronto, we stopped in Napanee, Ontario, the birthplace and childhood home of one of my favorite singers, Avril Lavigne. I saw the fried chicken place from which she was fired as a teenager.

After our stay in Toronto, heading to Buffalo, NY for our flight home, we made the slight detour to Niagara Falls, a major disappointment. I felt as disappointed as I did when I saw Mt. Rushmore; much fame for little reason. We viewed the falls from both the Canadian side and the U.S. side; it reminded me of the water falling in the Jacuzzi in a suite at Montego Bay Wendover. What’s the big deal about this place? We were hassled by a bum on the Canadian side; the only bum that accosted us during the entire trip.

Our return to the United States was as easy as our entry into Canada; again, we were the only car, and the process took less than a minute. I think there is universal agreement that Buffalo is a dump. We drove through some scary-looking slums before making our way out to an airport hotel for the final night of our trip.

The Buffalo airport is efficient and surprisingly nice, especially considering the city in which it is located. I rate it right up there with Reno and Little Rock as the most efficient small airports I have used.

We took a nonstop flight, which was fortunate. I tried to sleep most of the way, but the flight was The Travel Ploppy Express. Many of the people behaved as if they had never before been on an airplane. They stood up and walked around while the seat belt sign was on, much to the consternation of the flight attendants. One woman opened the overhead compartment, removed her suitcase, and appeared to be rearranging its contents for some unknown reason. Little kids ran screaming up and down the aisle.

When the well-meaning captain announced that the Grand Canyon was visible from the left side of the aircraft, a dozen or more people from the right-hand side stood in the aisle, some pushing into the left-side seats to try to get a glimpse of it, again while the seat belt sign was illuminated.

When we were on approach to McCarran Airport, someone shouted, “Can anyone see The Strip yet?” When the plane landed, many people applauded. I suppose I should be glad we’re getting such enthusiastic, unsophisticated visitors to Las Vegas. I assume that many of these folks played 6 to 5 blackjack at Harrah’s. Thanks for the money.

I was happy to see the familiar brown, parched, dusty desert. I could see for miles with no trees blocking my line of sight. And the dry, craggy mountains! Home Sweet Home.

It was an enjoyable trip, but there is no reason to ever go back, except to Atlantic City and Quebec City.

Topics: Atlantic City, Bear Praise, Cal-Neva, Las Vegas, New York (state), Police, Reno, Resorts Atlantic City | 2 Comments »

Federal jury awards patron $200,000 for false imprisonment by Venetian security guards, and wrongful hotel room eviction

By LVBear | April 9, 2010


A bully before jury verdict

The $200,000 jury verdict against Venetian for abusing a patron is great news. Many casino managers somehow believe that their hotel operations are not subject to the laws and regulations that apply to innkeepers. Just as they run their casinos, these cretins believe their hotels are “above the law” and not subject to the normal rules of civilized society. This jury just set the bullies at Venetian straight. I know there are other, similar cases pending. Let’s hope this verdict opens the floodgates. The common casino industry practice of kicking people out of their hotel rooms for using their brains to win, or just because someone employed by the casino doesn’t like them, is despicable. Congratulations to Bob Nersesian and Thea Sankiewicz for another great job and congratulations to the jurors for having the courage to stand up to the bullies.

Originally posted on BJ21.com Green Chip

LAS VEGAS – The jury verdict was delivered (Wednesday). Here is what I know so far, and my impressions from having read the court file: This case began in 2004. The victim is not an advantage player; just an average casino patron from New York. His room was paid for, not comped. It appears to be a case where no one employed by the Venetian used any common sense. The Venetian employees seemed to be hell-bent on escalating a minor incident. Racial overtones appear to be involved as well; the patron/victim is African-American.

The guards appear to have grossly overreacted to a petty situation, and a front desk manager, now employed at the Wynn, worsened the problem by wanting to evict the patron from his room for no logical reason. Subsequently one of the guards made a dubious citizen’s arrest, and, according to the guard’s own written statement, chained the patron to the floor of the security room. The patron, prior to being arrested by the private-citizen security guard, had offered to leave the premises, but refused to allow the guards access to his paid-for room. The guards admitted he several times offered to leave the premises. Metro eventually became involved, and arrested the patron for trespassing, apparently based on falsified or embellished information by one or more of the guards.

No criminal charges were filed against the patron. But while the patron was in the Clark County Detention Center, Venetian guards entered and ransacked his room, piled his belongings into garbage bags, then dumped the bags in the basement. The room safe was opened by a Venetian employee. The patron’s personal property, including cash and other valuables, were removed and stored.All this was done despite the fact that the room had been paid for in advance. In fairness to Venetian, apparently nothing was stolen by the guards.

It appears that the jury award was for the false arrest, false imprisonment, and the breach of innkeeper’s duties by the Venetian. Surprisingly, the Venetian stipulated that it had ratified the actions of the low-level employees involved. The victim was represented by Bob Nersesian, author of Beat the Players, Thea Sankiewicz, and Barry Levinson.

The front desk manager who is now employed at the Wynn did not respond to an email requesting comment.

Case information:
United States District Court, District of Nevada (Las Vegas)
CASE #: 2:07-cv-01032-JCM-PAL: Lockhart v Venetian Casino Resort, LLC, et al
James C. Mahan, Judge presiding

Link to news article
—————————————————–

Another incident and jury award involving Venetian security guards:

False imprisonment verdict of over $70,000 against Tao nightclub in Venetian

Topics: Las Vegas, Las Vegas Law Enforcement, Nevada Judicial Cases, New York (state), Venetian, Wynn Las Vegas | 2 Comments »

The Bear Growls: Harrah’s slithers off the hook again

By LVBear | February 26, 2010

The Nevada State Contractors Board on Thursday closed its long-standing investigations into illegal remodeling at six Las Vegas hotels in the Harrah’s Entertainment group, when it adopted a settlement in which the parties agree to pay the board $26,000.

http://www.lvrj.com/business/harrah_s-hotels-will-pay-fines-85462462.html

A tiny fine for all the building code violations and related crookedness. Shameful, but expected. A disgusting performance by all the public officials involved in this skulduggery, even by Nevada standards. I wonder what the price was of each public official who refused to properly do his or her duty?

A recap of the case:

http://www.thebeargrowls.com/?p=602

Topics: Government Corruption, Harrah's, Las Vegas, Las Vegas Law Enforcement, Nevada Gaming Control Board, Nevada Politics | 1 Comment »

The Bear Growls: Colorado casinos move to cheapen blackjack

By LVBear | February 17, 2010

It’s a shame that Colorado casino operators have already shown their excessive greed by requesting state regulators to permit the sucker-fleecing 6 to 5 payoff on blackjack. Some of the information in this article is misleading, to say the least:

“Six-to-5 is common in Vegas now, so the industry wants to be consistent with other jurisdictions,” (Colorado Division of Gaming spokesman) Don Burmania said.

It is not mentioned that the 6 to 5 sucker ripoff is rare in other parts of the country and throughout the world. In Las Vegas, 6 to 5 is found mostly on the lowest-stakes tables of the tourist ripoff capital of the world. Of course, with all of Colorado being low-stakes, there is no distinction. But the present Colorado game rule regulations are fine. There is no need to change them, except to further increase the table maximums. Let’s hope the Colorado regulators have the backbone to stand up to the casino bullies and say NO to this ripoff.

UPDATE February 19, 2010:

Unfortunately, the Colorado regulators had no backbone to stand up to the casino bullies and say NO to this ripoff.

Topics: Casino Executives, Colorado | 2 Comments »

The Bear Growls: The coverup and whitewash of Harrah’s crimes — criminal case dismissed

By LVBear | December 6, 2009

HALL OF SHAME CHARTER MEMBERS

Judge Eric Goodman

Judge Eric Goodman


DA David Roger

Harrahs CEO Gary Loveman

Harrah's CEO Gary Loveman

Judge Eric Goodman in Las Vegas Justice Court dismissed six misdemeanor counts faced by the hotel company and two hotel employees. Goodman, who happens to be the son of the Las Vegas mayor, did so after hearing statements by Clark County District Attorney David Roger and Harrah’s attorney, who is Richard Bryan, the former governor and U.S. senator.

Criminal charges related to Harrah’s remodeling dismissed

Though this was entirely expected, the reality of it actually happening is still sickening. Similar to the Gaming Control Board, our apparently corrupt District Attorney David Roger seems to have decided that when a casino corporation commits crimes, all it has to do to avoid prosecution of it and its executives is say it’s sorry and pay the costs of the investigation.

Of all the shameful, despicable things we see from Nevada governments on a routine basis, this has to rank among the worst. Shame on David Roger, shame on Harrah’s, and shame on Judge Goodman.

Judging by the comments posted after the news article linked above, it appears that many other local residents are outraged by the cowardly behavior displayed by Mr. Roger and Judge Goodman. I hope that voters remember this when these two creeps are up for re-election.

Previous comments on this matter:

Harrah’s whistleblower names names

Petty spitefulness by Harrah’s?

District Attorney helping sweep Harrah’s crimes under the rug

Shoddy construction but no meaningful enforcement; MGM, Harrah’s get free passes

Topics: Government Corruption, Harrah's, Las Vegas, Las Vegas Law Enforcement, Nevada Gaming Control Board, Nevada Politics | 4 Comments »

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