Las Vegas casinos dislike “advantage gamblers,” and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has now held that a Las Vegas hotel has the right to make a citizen arrest of an “advantage gambler.”
An “advantage gambler” uses techniques, such as card counting, to win at casino table games. While card counting is not illegal in Las Vegas, Las Vegas hotels do have the legal right to ask anyone, including an “advantage gambler” to leave the hotel premises for any reason. That is what Caesars Palace did to Laurie Tsao.
Tsao is a well known “advantage gambler” in Las Vegas. Prior to this arrest at Caesars, Tsao had trespassed on at least five occasions at Desert Palace properties, which included Caesars, and been warned not to come back. After the last warning, Desert Palace mailed Tsao at least three promotional offers for a “free” stay. When Tsao went to Caesars she was identified as a patron who had previously trespassed. Because Tsao had used different aliases on her visits to Desert Palace properties, Caesars was not clear on Tsao’s real identity. When she refused to present any identification, Caesar’s security guards refused to let her leave, handcuffed her, and took her to an interview room. After a lengthy questioning, a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officer arrived and questioned Tsao further. Tsao was given a summons for misdemeanor trespassing and put under arrest for providing false information to a police officer.
Tsao filed suit in Nevada state court against Deserts Palace and Caesars for unreasonable search and seizure, battery, false imprisonment, and defamation. The district court held that the Caesars’ security guards had probable cause to make a citizen’s arrest of Tsao for criminal trespassing. On appeal the Ninth Circuit held that the promotional offers did not constitute an “official policy, custom, or pattern” that was responsible for Tsao’s citizen’s arrest since the hotel had no idea who Tsao was beyond an “advantage gambler” and Tsao was using a different name than the one on the promotional offer. As such summary judgment was properly granted to Deserts Palace and Caesars.
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