Posted on: August 10, 2022, 12:48h.
Last updated on: August 10, 2022, 01:41h.
Sapphire Las Vegas, the self-proclaimed world’s largest strip club, is seeking a state gaming license and county approval to operate bar-top video poker machines.
The club has experienced pandemic shrinkage and is looking for other revenue streams. However, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the license faces some resistance from Clark County Commissioners.
Acting as Liquor and License Board, commissioners voted unanimously on Aug. 2 to delay deciding whether to approve Sapphire’s license until at least October. The delay is so it can more carefully consider whether to grant an exception to a 43-year-old ordinance requiring a separation of 250 feet between a slot-machine business and adult entertainment.
This exception is required to grant a gaming license to a strip club. Commissioners are instructed only to grant it if they determine that the gaming license would not affect the “health, safety, and welfare” of employees or customers of the business.
Dance Card No Longer Full
Sapphire has seen a 25% slump in its estimated 500,000 annual customers because of COVID-19 losses, according to the R-J. Strip clubs were among the last businesses allowed to reopen following the state-mandated pandemic shutdown in 2020.
To compensate, the club’s registered owner, SHAC LLC, applied for a restricted gaming license with the Nevada Gaming Control Board in June. Allowing a maximum of 15 slot machines is the type of license commonly sought by convenience and grocery stores and taverns.
Sapphire proposed installing a dozen poker machines in a 1,000-square-foot area inside its 71,000-square-foot club, out of view of the adult entertainment.
Virginia Valentine, president of the Nevada Resort Association, told commissioners she worried that granting the license might set a precedent to license gaming at other strip clubs. She said the trend would have “unintended consequences.” However, restricted gaming licenses for slots have previously been granted for two other Las Vegas-area gentlemen’s clubs: Club Platinum and Play It Again Sam.
Burden of Proof Falls in Sapphire’s Lap
But the burden to prove viability falls on Sapphire, according to Clark County Commissioner Jim Gibson.
My view is that there are really wise kinds of foundations here that ought to keep these uses separate,” he said at an Aug. 2 commissioners meeting. “I would hope that as we go forward … they address that concern, 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.”
As the R-J pointed out, Gibson’s son, Brin Gibson, chairs the Gaming Control Board, which would hear Sapphire’s request for licensing.
Sapphire has held an entertainment cabaret license since 2003. David Brown, an attorney representing SHAC LLC, told commissioners that the club is an “upstanding business” with a “wonderful working relationship” with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
He argued that the gaming license would translate into even more oversight for the club since Gaming Control Board agents would now routinely check in on operations.