Record $500,000 fine levied over casino guards’ actions against employee, customer

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A Laughlin casino agreed to pay a record $500,000 fine over two incidents in 2022 when security guards used force — once against a customer and once against an employee.

Officials from the Riverside Resort & Casino appeared before the Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday to answer questions about the incidents and what the company has done to correct the problem.

According to John Michela of the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, a Riverside employee was detained and held without reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing in the first incident. A Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department investigation determined four guards should be arrested on charges of coercion with physical force and false imprisonment. The charges were reduced to battery and false imprisonment, and eventually dismissed when officers stayed out of trouble and completed impulse control counseling. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported the unidentified employee was accused of smoking marijuana on the job.

In the second incident, Michela said a Riverside guard used excessive force in escorting a patron off premises.

The Riverside, represented by gaming attorney Greg Giordano and Matt Laughlin, grandson of the town’s founder and Riverside’s chief operating officer, admitted the company’s wrongdoing.

They said four of the five guards were fired. The fifth guard was reassigned. Officials said they have now have a review committee and applicants are carefully screened.

Giordano said the $500,000 fine represented “a record fine for incidents between a gaming establishment security guard acting inappropriately.” Previously, the Fremont Hotel & Casino was fined $300,000 after a 2019 incident when a slot player was handcuffed to keep her in a room for 90 minutes when she was accused of stealing another player’s credits.

“The allegations of the complaint are serious. However, Riverside has put into place significant measures to hopefully ensure something like this does not happen again,” Michela told commissioners.

Commissioner Ogonna Brown was not happy that the incidents were not immediately reported to the state.

“I believe the business judgment of the company should have been to report when an employee is falsely accused and knocked out for 18 minutes. That to me seems pretty egregious and something that should voluntarily be disclosed,” Brown said.

“Having a patron that’s supposed to be moved out of a certain area and then hospitalized because he was shoved down to the ground on his face, that’s something that should have been disclosed I think out of your own volition. Because it’s not something that we expect and when I read it I was a little bit disturbed by it,” Brown said.

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