The Bear Growls: Reno bums and street people

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.


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