By Elmer Whittaker
I had a late start playing poker and it was already close to midnight on Saturday July 30, 2016 when I called into the Wynn’s Poker Room to have my name put on the waiting list for a poker game. At around 0:15 am Sunday morning I arrived at the Wynn’s Poker Room and automatically sought and stop by the security guard stationed at the entrance of the poker room where they routinely search all bags and suitcases brought into the poker room for inspection.
I always bring a small backpack with rollers and a number of zippered compartments when I go play poker. The main compartment containing food, usually in a black zippered cooler bag, my insulin as I am diabetic and a bottle of water. Other compartments hold my poker glasses, fan, extension cords, glucose meter and other medications and things I might need while playing poker.
As security searches or maybe better said pretend searches all bags brought into the poker room which in itself is more than just unusual for Las Vegas, I am used my backpack being searched. Some security guards ask me to open and unzip the main compartment of my backpack, others open the zipper themselves with my permission, while in rare cases some security guards open more than the main compartment, again with my permission, before I’m being cleared to pass. Naturally, no contraband is ever found and the security checks have always been conducted extremely polite and respectful.
Not so last night. Security Guard “Lindsey” asked me to open already the third zippered compartment of my backpack for which I had to bend down and untangle the zippers each time. After that I said to the security guard, being slightly annoyed, “if she was going to make me open all compartments of my backpack”, having given her permission to search my backpack right from the beginning. The security guard then promptly shifted the focus from my backpack to my person and asked me what I had in my pockets.
Now becoming somewhat irritated, I demonstratively pulled out a bundle of money out of my pockets and showed it to her and asked “if she wanted me to take off my shoes as well” as I was wearing a rather open pair of sandals.
Virtually out of nowhere a couple of Security Supervisors materialized who virtually escalated the entire interaction into a security incident. Supervisor “Jesus” who did most of the talking and escalating was supported by I believe Supervisor “Alvarez”.
Supervisor “Jesus” immediately confronted me with the words “why I was giving the security guard a hard time”. There was no politeness, courtesy or respect in Supervisor “Jesus’” interaction with me. I felt like I was predetermined to be a criminal or terrorist. My backpack routinely searched at no other Casino then the Wynn’s ever, I thought the security guard was giving me a hard time by making me open all the zippers and then asking me what I was having in my pockets.
Supervisor “Jesus” now almost entirely focused on my empty gun holster which I wear on my belt next to my cell phone holster. I open carry a firearm on a daily basis but do respect a Casino’s right to determine if they allow firearms on their property. Thru my interactions with security over the years it has become very clear that Casinos are well aware of citizens carry concealed on their properties but do not really mind as long as they don’t officially know about it.
Nevada has no laws prohibiting open carry and without a law criminalizing something, it is legal to do that thing (NRS 193.120). No permit is required to openly carry a firearm. Anyone 18 and older who can legally possess a firearm may openly carry virtually anywhere in the state. Legal Concealed and Open Firearms Carriers are considered amongst the most law abiding citizens in the United States.
As I do respect a Casino’s right to disallow firearms, I never carry a firearm in any Casino. Not openly and not concealed. Period. Whenever I enter a Casino I don’t bring my firearm, leaving an empty gun holster and my cell phone holster as belted remnants on my right hip.
Realizing that this situation is indeed escalating I used my de-escalation skills to calm the situation down and repeatedly said the Supervisor “Jesus” that I am not going to argue this situation and that I was in full compliance with the search of my backpack and answered all accusatory questions concerning my empty gun holster.
As my de-escalation skills clearly disarmed Supervisor “Jesus” escalation tactics I was about to be granted admittance to the Wynn’s Poker Room when I said to “Leon”, one of the Poker Room Floor Supervisors who knows me for over 25 years and who witnessed the whole ordeal that “this was ridicules” which immediately prompted Supervisor “Jesus” to ask me to leave the premises.
You asking me to leave because I said to Leon “that this was ridicules” I questioned Supervisor “Jesus” to which he replied affirmatively. Although now I really started to feel like I was in NAZI Germany, I again used my de-escalation skills and was finally granted permission to enter the Wynn’s Poker Room.
Now finally seated at a poker table it only took minutes before Supervisors “Jesus” and “Alvarez” approached me once again at the poker table and wanted to talk to me. I complied and followed the supervisors away from the table at which Supervisor “Jesus” told me that he talked to his supervisor Director of Security John Choate and that he ordered that I could no longer wear my empty gun holster nor bring my backpack into the poker room and hence had to take both to my car in the parking garage in order to remain in the poker room.
Upon my objection that I had all my food in my backpack, Supervisor “Jesus” only replied that if I was getting hungry I could always walk to the parking garage and get the food. I then reached into my right cargo pocket where I was carrying my personal and political business cards to hand them to Supervisor “Jesus”, when he suddenly thought that my left cargo pocket seemed unusual heavy and wanted to know what I was carrying in it. At that moment I really could not remember if I was carrying anything in my left cargo pockets and told him that, while reaching down to see what really was in my left cargo pockets that might arose Supervisor “Jesus” suspicions. He immediately and emphatically warned me of reaching down to my cargo pockets and to make no fast movements. I started to get the feeling I had guns trained on me.
Supervisor “Jesus” then proceeded, with my permission, to pad my left cargo pocket down, but the only thing that was in my cargo pocket was an unused “Wet Nap”. I however had enough fun at the Wynn’s for the short night and decided cash out and leave, much to the surprise of the Security Supervisors who fully expected me to bring my backpack along with my empty gun holster to my car and return like a sheep generating money for the Wynn’s.
Contrary to the arguments of the Wynn’s Casino Manager Dan Evans and their Director of Security John Choate, an empty gun holster is indeed NOT indicative of a gun being present, but logically a clear indication that NO gun is being present.
It’s empty gun holsters today. What’s it going to be tomorrow? NRA pins? T-Shirts supporting the Second Amendment? Baseball Caps that are Pro Gun Rights?
It’s called a “witch-hunt” and “We The People” are not going to take it quietly!
I am a dues paying member of the Poker Players Alliance, the National Rifle Association, the Nevada Firearms Coalition and Gun Owners of America.