6 Celebrities Who Have Been Banned From Casinos
For most of us, one of the least likely items on our “bucket list” is to get banned from some place. It could be a retail store, it could be a local pub, it could be your cousin’s house. What you do to earn that banning is often embarrassing.
Okay, it’s almost always embarrassing. But look at the bright side—you now have bragging rights, if you’re the type to brag about such things.
Some of the people below probably are. I’ve put together a list of 6 famous celebrities who were banned from casinos.
I Don’t Like to Brag, But…
I once got banned from a furniture store in Colorado because—as my accuser, a store employee, put it—I threw a pen at him. I hadn’t. What I had done is toss the pen to him. Underhanded. This was not some ninja move I had learned at the feet of my karate sensei. It was not poisoned, nor was it explosive. It was a simple, cheap plastic pen, identical to those banks use now that they’ve given up on the whole “chain the pen to the desk” trick. It had the weight of about two Q-tips, this Deadly Pen of Death. Had I thrown it overhand, and in a fit of rage, I doubt it would have left a mark.
Okay, maybe a little blue one. Or a black one—I don’t recall what color of ink the pen contained.
No. The problem was that the Deadly Pen-Toss of Death occurred during a heated argument with said employee. Without going into the whole ludicrous episode, I had objected to the way the furniture I had just bought was being loaded into my pickup. During the argument, the employee demanded I give back the pen I had just signed some paperwork with.
By this time, I was already outside, standing near the loading dock. He was just inside the warehouse, standing behind a kiosk, as important people are wont to do. So I tossed it to him.
A bit later—after my $8,000 worth of furniture had been loaded—the manager approached me. He told me I was banned from ever shopping at his store again because I had thrown a pen at his employee. I’ve never been banned from any place, ever, and so the only response I could think of was to laugh in the manager’s face. This did not help my case, but then, I couldn’t imagine needing another eight grand worth of furniture anytime soon, so I simply said “fine” and drove home.
I said all that to say all this: Sometimes it doesn’t take any talent to get banned from some place. Sometimes, it’s a comedy of errors suitable for an episode of Fawlty Towers.
And such is the case with some—but certainly not all—of the celebrities banned from the various casinos in Las Vegas.
I should point out that casinos are not like other places, and they tend to be far more lenient and nonjudgmental when it comes to ejecting a patron. It usually takes quite a shenanigan to put a casino on its last nerve. And in most of the cases below, given the facts, it seems likely that the banning was warranted. In others, well, what happens in Vegas is often just too unbelievable to have happened anywhere else.
Paris Hilton leads off just about every “Celebrities Banned in Vegas” article—and rightly so. Paris is famous for being a celebrity. Or maybe she’s a celebrity because she is famous. I can never keep that straight.
In either case, Paris Hilton got herself banned from both the Wynn and the Encore resorts in 2010 following her arrest at the entryway of the Wynn. The arresting officers discovered cocaine in her possession, which Paris would later claim she thought was gum—a mistake all of us have made at one time or another, to be sure. A couple of days later, Wynn Resorts confirmed that the two hotel-casinos had banned Paris Hilton from the properties.
Paris later pleaded guilty to drug possession and obstructing an officer and was sentenced to a year of probation and 200 hours of community service.
Meanwhile, Cy Waits, Paris’ boyfriend who was with her at the time of the arrest, was likewise banned from the Wynn properties. He also lost his job. As something called “Co-Chief of Nightlife Operations” at both the Wynn and the Encore. All the movies about Vegas I’ve ever seen suggest very strongly that providing drugs to celebrities is part of the job description. Learning that it is not part of the SOP makes me question if it’s worth putting all that effort into becoming a celebrity in the first place.
Vince Neil, erstwhile frontman of heavy metal band Mötley Crüe, was banned in 2012 from the Palms resort in Las Vegas—and it may be the first instance of a casino banning a patron largely due to a series of tweets.
The first one came following dinner at Little Buddha at the Palms on March 28th, 2012.
I love Vegas, but DO NOT GO TO LITTLE BUDDHA @palms IN VEGAS!! OMG RUDEST STAFF EVER!! Don't go!!— Vince Neil (@thevinceneil) March 29, 2012
A week later, he continued his Twitter tirade with, “Do [sic] to recent events, including distrust and dishonesty at the executive level. I will never again step foot @palms property.”
The Sun reported at the time that the Palms responded with a series of tweets that claimed Neil had been ejected from Little Buddha on March 28th, 2012, because of “inappropriate behavior” and that because of that behavior as well as his Twitter rant, he was “no longer welcome at Palms.”
Neil apparently couldn’t leave well enough alone, because he tweeted back “@palms can say what they want. It’s all lie’s [sic]. F[**]k the executives!! I’ll name names later!!”
That was eight years ago. I was unable to find any indication that Neil has since named names—on Twitter or anywhere else. But I remain hopeful.
Actor, writer, director, producer, card counter… Wait a minute. What was that last one?
In 2014, during a brief respite prior to starting filming on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Affleck and his then-wife, actress Jennifer Garner, dropped by the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Affleck, who has a well-earned reputation as a poker player, chose to try some blackjack at a high-rollers table.
According to unnamed sources who spoke with the New York Post about the incident, “Ben was told that he cannot ever play blackjack at the Hard Rock again.’’
According to the Post’s unnamed source, Affleck was doing pretty well at the blackjack table when “[s]uddenly, managers approached Ben and told him. ‘You are playing too well. You are going to have to stop playing blackjack. You can play any other game at the Hard Rock, but you are banned from playing blackjack in our casino.’”
Was he counting cards? Affleck isn’t saying, and neither is the Hard Rock. You may or may not know this, but counting cards—keeping track of the cards being dealt from a multideck shoe—is not illegal. Neither is flatulence. But doing either one at a blackjack table is enough to get you asked out.
Some reports claim that industry insiders had earlier circulated information about Affleck noting that his blackjack play at other Las Vegas casinos showed obvious signs of card-counting.
Reportedly, an internal memo was circulated among Wynn and Encore dealers just a few days prior to the Hard Rock incident that said “[Affleck] was informed that he was being way too obvious moving his money with the count. He was spreading $100 -10K on the double decks and $0-20K (2@10K) on the shoe games. As of now, he is still being allowed to play per casino management.”
If the memo is not apocryphal, then it suggests strongly that Affleck was indeed counting cards. This does not make him a criminal (that feat was accomplished with Gigli). And the memo shows that different casinos take different levels of action when card-counting is discovered or suspected.
The unnamed source quoted above also told the Post that Affleck is an “Advantage Player,” which typically means he is a skilled player who exploits a game’s inherent characteristics to gain an advantage, typically over the house. In the game of blackjack, of course, card counting is considered one such “exploit of inherent characteristics.”
Known mostly for turning the bankrupt Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) into the largest mixed martial arts (MMA) organization in the world, Dana White has also made a name for himself as one of the most-banned blackjack players in Vegas—or so he says.
He does have a documented love-hate relationship with the Palms, at which he has won millions, resulting in the Palms cutting his credit line in half and limiting his blackjack play to $5,000 per hand (he reportedly plays at the $25,000 a hand level). In retaliation, White stopped gambling at the Palms, and further, he pulled UFC engagements from the resort as well.
He was invited back about a year later, but soon enough, just like before, he was “winning too much,” and the Palms again cut his credit line and limited his betting amounts.
During an interview with Joe Rogan, White claimed he’d been banned from three casinos—“four, if you count [the Palms] twice”—but I have found no record of bannings aside from the frequent flyer miles he acquired being escorted out of the Palms.
UFC welterweight Colby “Chaos” Covington may be the only celebrity to get banned from a Las Vegas casino for fighting in the buffet line.
On Sunday, March 3, 2019, Kamaru “The Nigerian Nightmare” Usman, his manager, and a very large bodyguard confronted Covington while he stood in the line waiting to get into the Palms Buffet. This was a day after Usman’s UFC welterweight title win over Tyron Woodley.
I could go on, paraphrasing the various reports, but let’s let Covington tell us in his own words (as told to an interviewer on ESPN) what happened.
“I’m just trying to get some crab legs. Can’t the man get some crab legs? Can the man, the champ, get some crab legs in peace? All of a sudden low-energy Marty comes, […] Ali comes and some other Sasquatch and they start pushing and swinging and start putting innocent kids’ lives in danger and a pregnant lady. There’s a pregnant lady, and she’s screaming, ‘I’m pregnant, stop this!’ Ali is still pushing, trying to make a scene. Usman is still trying to scream at me, ‘I’m going to get you!’ And his Sasquatch is trying to throw punches at my friend and trying to punch me. It’s a complete joke.”
Witnesses of the altercation mostly confirm Covington’s version of the events, and a phone video of the altercation itself—which later appeared on TMZ Sports—also seems to corroborate Covington’s story. Still, for whatever reason, it was Covington who was banned for life from the Palms.
Incidentally, I’ve watched the video a few times (and you should, too), and my main takeaway is that somebody needs to give a word of advice to Ali’s “sasquatch” bodyguard, and that word is Manzier.
Which 11-time NBA All-Star got banned from Bally’s Park Place in Atlantic City for relieving himself in public? The answer, of course, is “The Answer.”
In 2004, Allen Iverson—nicknamed The Answer back when he played for Philadelphia—was asked to leave Bally’s Resort and Casino in Atlantic City and “never return” after he was reportedly caught urinating into a trashcan on the casino floor.
He was also banned from the MGM and the Greektown casinos in Detroit in 2009 for “mostly his boorish behavior,” according to a report on the Detroit News Pistons blog. The blog post also noted that Iverson “is a bad loser, and he loses a lot, often throwing his chips or cards at the dealer. He has been warned about improper behavior at the tables repeatedly. He is often loud and disruptive, according to witnesses, rude to dealers, other players and the wait staff.”
Be that as it may, Iverson will be remembered more for his success on the court than his failures off the court. Come on, the guy changed on-the-court fashion forever just by wearing a special sleeve to combat a case of bursitis. That was in 2001. Since then, many players, including LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Carmelo Anthony have adopted Iverson’s fashion statement. If you think it looks silly, I direct your attention to another trendsetter by the name of Dennis Rodman. Nothing further, your honor. The defense rests.
The Scorpion and the Frog
Casinos—like most other enterprises (Congress and Dick’s Sporting Goods among the obvious exceptions)—exist to make money. This means the more people they can attract to their casinos, the better. And what’s a better or more time-honored tradition in advertising and promotion than the celebrity endorsement? And in the case of casinos, the celebrities don’t even have to utter scripted baloney in order to serve that endorsement purpose—they merely have to show up.
Everyone remembers the casino where they saw Robert De Niro at the craps table, or that time they saw Lou Rawls calmly sipping coffee in the casino’s café. Even catching Lady Ga-Ga as she’s getting onto an elevator and going to a floor the hotel won’t even acknowledge exists can be a memorable treat.
Incidentally, who doesn’t want to bet the “Don’t Pass” line when De Niro gets the dice? Okay, maybe that’s just the contrarian in me. I wish Bob all success in his future endeavors. Really.
Be that as it may, casinos encourage celebrities to gamble and dine at their properties. For which they are prepared to overlook a great many peccadillos. But not all of them.
If you expect or even plan to become a celebrity, you might want to first take a look at our guide to not getting kicked out of casinos. Or, if you’re a contrarian at heart, you can always begin your rampage with our instructive How to Ban Yourself from Gambling.