Thursday, October 4, 2007

Harrah's Rio Tower Problem

Often it is stated that the local newspapers lay off the casino giants because, of course, the Strip is everyone's bread and butter in Vegas. If some crime pops up and then seems to vanish from the news, the local media is usually accused by outsiders (and some insiders) of covering up, as if Gary Loveman or Terry Lanni can call Thomas Mitchell at the R-J and have coverage killed.

The R-J's output this week proves the lie in that. The paper's probe of safety inspection violations actually managed to get local officials to force Harrah's to shut down six rooms in the Rio's Ipanema Tower because it seems the hotel may not have obtained proper permits for its 2005 remodel job.

Six rooms in a tower of 1,448 may not seem like much. But county inspectors are saying they're finding evidence that the hotel company didn't seal holes drilled in concrete properly. It sounds like the county is going to be crawling around the tower for months now, given that they're saying they'll need to check every single room.

The question I have is: Clearly the media is not covering for the gaming company. But why is the county allowing the entire tower to remain open if they suspect safety issues throughout?

Bravo to reporter Joan Whitely for her boffo work on this.