September 19, 2009

Vegas getting tough on nightclub antics

Las Vegas police are cracking down on mega-nightclubs at casino-hotels that allegedly allow prostitution, lewd behavior and drug use, observers say.

The Labor Day weekend brought eight arrests at the Hard Rock Hotel's pool club, called Rehab, on suspicion of prostitution and drug crimes, while in July the Rio closed a topless pool managed by a local strip club after 10 were arrested there, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

That same month, gaming regulators slapped the Planet Hollywood casino with a $500,000 penalty for allowing patrons at its Prive nightclub to engage in topless and lewd activity, the newspaper said.

Vegas observers say the lucrative, glitzy nightclubs and their booze-drenched pool parties first appeared in the 1990s, replacing its traditional smoke-filled lounges, after the city's attempts to market itself as a family-friendly destination failed to generate sufficient revenue. The clubs started making headlines for arrests during the height of the What happens here, stays here tourism campaign, when their allure were heavily marketed.

Competition for the younger crowd is prompting the clubs to push the envelope with antics such as stripping contests and alleged drug use, the Times said.