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Strip club seeks approval to add video poker machines

Updated August 10, 2022 - 1:43 pm

Citing financial losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic, a Las Vegas strip club is seeking a state gaming license and county approval to operate bar-top poker machines.

SHAC LLC, the parent company of Sapphire Las Vegas Gentlemen’s Club, applied for a restricted gaming license with the Nevada Gaming Control Board in June and representatives of the owner appeared before the Clark County Commission last week.

Commissioners, acting as the Liquor and License Board, on Aug. 2 voted unanimously to delay a decision on the matter for at least 60 days.

At issue is whether the club is suitable to hold a slot machine license. The current ordinance sets a separation of 250 feet between a slot machine operation and an adult entertainment business.

Commissioners can make an exception and grant the license if they deem it would not affect “health, safety and welfare,” according to the ordinance.

Two other gentlemen’s clubs — Play It Again Sam and Club Platinum — hold restricted gaming licenses in the Las Vegas area. They are required to provide free access to slot players.

If approved, a dozen bar-top poker machines would be installed in a 1,000-square-foot area within the 40,000-square-foot club, out of view of the dancer entertainers, David Brown, an attorney representing SHAC LLC, told commissioners.

The company, he said, has seen a 25 percent decline in the estimated 500,000 customers the club normally attracts yearly. Adult entertainment clubs were among the last businesses allowed to reopen after the pandemic struck and state officials ordered businesses closed or curtailed in 2020.

Brown described Sapphire as an “upstanding business” with a “wonderful working relationship” with the Metropolitan Police Department, making proposed public safety-related changes and open to more safeguards. He said Sapphire would have even more oversight if licensed, with Gaming Control Board agents also looking in on the club.

Concerns voiced

Virginia Valentine, president of the Nevada Resort Association, told commissioners that granting the license could set a precedent to license gaming at other locations, a premature move without evaluating “unintended consequences.”

The burden to prove viability falls on the applicant, Commissioner Jim Gibson said. “My view is that there are really wise kinds of foundations here that ought to keep these uses separate,” he said.

“I would hope that as we go forward … that they address that concern,” Gibson added. “Because I think it’s on them to carry the ball, that it is effectively not just not bad for us but good for us to make this exception.”

His son, Brin Gibson, chairs the Gaming Control Board, which would hear SHAC’s request for licensing when it is aired. A spokesman for the board confirmed that SHAC’s request is in the licensing pipeline but added a hearing wouldn’t be scheduled until after the county determines what it intends to do.

SHAC would be seeking a restricted gaming license, which allows for a maximum 15 slot machines in a facility. They’re most commonly sought by convenience and grocery stores and taverns.

Sapphire has held a license to serve food, liquor, charge admission fees, conduct sales and act as an entertainment cabaret since 2003. The county ordinance requiring that gaming and adult entertainment venues be separated has been in place for 43 years.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Ricardo Torres-Cortez contributed to this report.

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