The Nevada Gaming Control Board still hasn’t decided whether racy Hard Rock billboard ads are legitimate advertising, pornography, or inducements to cheat. There is now a trial (!) set for November. Commissioners had already rejected a $300,000 settlement of a three-count complaint, and now the adventure continues. From the LVRJ:
Hard Rock Hotel President Kevin Kelley said for now all the billboards that caused the initial fuss have either been taken down or the wording in the advertising has been modified.
However, the billboards now around town still show models engaged in the physical activities that precipitated the uproar. But the written messages on the signs have been altered so they cannot be construed to suggest illegal activities, which the Gaming Control Board in May claimed was the real issue.
Cowan said Thursday the attorney general’s office have been making “gratifying” progress in settlement negotiations since then, but admitted it appeared impossible to resolve two issues.
The stumbling block is the extent to which gaming regulators should be involved in private sector advertising decisions, which has been the focus of public comments on the case. Civil liberties attorneys have argued against any infringement on First Amendment rights of casino operators.
Hard Rock ad issues unresolved
If you are curious, here is one of the offending ads:
If I was on the Commission, I too might decide that this issue, and material like this, must be studied with scrupulous attention to detail–particularly the female model.
It’s funny that this guy has hit blackjack, has a huge stack of chips, and is practically on top of a topless, gorgeous blonde (added bonus: biting the card, signifying an oral fixation), and he has this look on his face like he’s reading an actuarial table. Lighten up, man. At least grin a little. If I was in that situation, they’d have to surgically remove the smile from my face.
I also like the subtle messages the ad sends. Note that the determined-looking gambler is simultaneously drinking (martini glass), smoking, gambling, and rubbing up against a topless girl. I think that he hit a veritable grand slam of vices there.
That’s the great thing about how Las Vegas is promoted. In most cities, you can go to a bar and get sloshed, smoke, play at least bingo, or sit out in the sun. In Las Vegas, you can do all of them–simultaneously. This is why the people who market the city are geniuses–something for everyone.
The other funny thing is looking at this from a gaming perspective. When I was in surveillance, I had occasion to see many things transpire at the blackjack tables, but nothing like this. Of course, in New Jersey, players aren’t allowed to touch the cards, let alone bite them. Still, I can just imagine getting a call: “You might want to keep an eye on table 6, one of the players has taken off her top and sprawled herself across the layout.”
In closing, the commission’s response gives you a window into the Nevada psyche. Playing blackjack topless in a pool, smoking, and drinking is no problem at all, but the mere mention of “cheating” sends everyone into panic mode. While “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” don’t you dare try to mess with the games: they are sacred.
I still don’t understand how this thing is going to trial. It’s not like this is Inherit the Wind or something. I’m a little confused as to why this advertisement has sparked a controversy that will end up in court, but another case of casino employees rigging a game of chance (not a casino game, but a raffle drawing), ended with only a fine.
For info about the initial complaints see It’s a Hard Rock life, Hard Rock not solid, and Hard sell too edgy.