Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

Is the Hard Rock looking through people's bags to enforce a 'no outside booze' policy? Seems crazy, right? Well I received an email from a reliable reader saying that they are doing just that, at least this past weekend.

This sort of policy is just as common as people ignoring it - most Las Vegas hotels frown on the practice and if you're walking around with a cooler or carrying a six-pack, you might see a raised eyebrow or even be questioned about it. From what I'm hearing though, the Hard Rock is going a step beyond this with security guards actually having customers open their backpacks, purses, and other bags to ensure that no outside alcohol is coming into the hotel. From what I am told, these searches are being applied unevenly - sometimes they're allowing folks to pass right through and other times stopping everyone.

After taking an informal survey on Twitter, no one had ever even heard of it being taken this far at other properties though HRH patrons confirmed that the hotel has been having guests sign a paper indicating an understanding of the policy for years.

Now, I am not a lawyer but this just seems totally upside down. Being private property, maybe there's nothing at all illegal about asking to go through people's stuff but what happens if you refuse? Do they throw you out? Does grandma have to let security rifle through her underwear?

I have a line into the hotel to see if this is official policy or just an overzealous shift of rent-a-cops. I'll update this post when/if I hear back - so far nothing.


Read archived comments (13 so far)
March 8, 2009 8:51 PM Posted by Duffman

Really? One of the first things I do when I get to Vegas is to go pick up an 18 pack of Bud Light and put it on ice in the room. Also what with not have have 24 can cases?

March 9, 2009 4:31 AM Posted by Brendan Tait

I doubt that this is a case of some overzealous rent-a-cops. Most likely, they do have some directive, either written or oral, from somebody who has got it directly (again, either written or oral) from an actual employee of Hard Rock.

I doubt that this is a problem for people who drink in their own rooms. It's well known that most hotels in Vegas, and other major resort-based cities, frown on their guests consuming their own alcohol on the premises (i.e., at the pool, in restaurants, walking around...), basically in any area that isn't their own room.

As for the legalities of it, the casinos themselves have permits and such that permit the sale and consumption of alcohol. Having guests bring in their own booze and drinking it on the premises could be seen as a violation of those policies, as the business on the permit is not able to control the flow of alcohol. As for the searches, they are completely within their rights to do spot checks. Wal-Mart checks merchandise/shopping bags upon entering many of their stores. If they found any alcohol and deemed it to be inappropriate, illegal, or just not in line with their general business practices, they would most likely confiscate it and dump it. Anybody who has ever sneaked in outside alcohol to a golf course with a beer cart (and been caught!) knows this to be true.

Having said that, while I can understand that the Hard Rock is just trying to cover it's bottom line and increase revenues, pushing guests around and making them wait to be 'searched' is not the way to invite people in. Waiting for searches and all that it entails is the #1 reason people hate to fly. Hard Rock probably doesn't want that association as well.

March 9, 2009 5:28 AM Posted by Sam

I think no-outside-booze policies are silly for any property, but this crackdown seems especially out of place at Hard Rock. I could see a similar enforcement effort at Bellagio or Wynn because carrying around a can of beer, admittedly, does not help class up the joint. But the reason I — and I suspect most others — smuggle in my own liquor is cost. $16 drinks at the hotel aren't an option. For a property that bills itself as a nonstop party, it seems like the most important thing for Hard Rock would be to make sure the guests were drinking, period.

March 9, 2009 10:46 AM Posted by 0ooo0

I would imagine this is due to the clientele filling up the place right now - college spring breakers. This would be a PR and cusomter service disaster at most places, but at the Hard Rock they know these kids came to see the skanks at the pool at could care less about the service. Plus, they aren't looking to gain repeat business off spring breakers because it's all funded off their parents money or student loans. These kids will all be broke in 1-2 years once they graduate.

March 9, 2009 11:32 AM Posted by mike_ch

I don't think this has to do with profits or being classy (it's the Hard Rock, people, they pay women to walk around in outfits that couldn't be sleazier unless there was a light being pointed at their rumps) but to do with underage drinking.

I imagine if you're a security guy at the Hard Rock, you get trained to spot all kinds of fake IDs, and some probably still get through. Most of the underage drinking is probably booze brought in from outside.

If they're actually searching people then it could be that the place has been hit with so many citations or whatever in the last few months, or the security guys have caught enough fake IDs, that theyr'e trying to figure out if something is coming from inside or outside, or if there's some kind of investigation involved to keep the heat off them for a while.

I mean, I'm just saying. I know a UNLV student who isn't old enough to drink but has tasted way more booze than I ever have or ever will, and the Hard Rock is right nearby.

March 9, 2009 1:11 PM Posted by GregoryZephyr

I find it unlikely that a frat boy who's told they can't bring a 24pack of beer into their room would say, "Okay, I'll just buy from the bar." More likely they'd just head down to a Budget Suites or Motel 6. So, my opinion is that Hard Rock is simply trying to deflect the spring breakers (as was already pointed out here), rather than expecting a big boost to revenue, and will lay off the searches in a month or so.

March 10, 2009 11:46 AM Posted by steve_c

Encore was checking bags for outside food and drink as well. We never had an issue, but I noticed some guests were stopped before entering the elevator lobby and told to dispose of their food and drink.

Was also shocked to see the "Wynn K-9" team walking around and sniffing bags at the reception counter, made me feel reallllly comfortable. lol

March 10, 2009 11:48 AM Posted by Hunter

The K-9s are regularly cruising around but in my three trips to Encore I've not seen any bag checking.

When did this occur?

March 10, 2009 12:41 PM Posted by Las Vegas USA

Yeah no up scale hotel wants to see you wheeling around your cooler and koozi cup. I'm sure they would rather have you at the bar anyways spending money. Is this legal for a hotel to do?

March 10, 2009 2:55 PM Posted by steve_c

This happened about 2 nights of the 5 we stayed at Encore at the Resort Elevators for the upper floors. On one occasion, it was a larger group of about ten entering the lobby, most of them had big 44 oz big gulps in hand and a bunch of takeout. I am not sure if there was also an issue with them having their room card also, but I saw one woman going through her large purse for the security guy.

The other time a guy was literally EATING a cheeseburger while trying to get in the lobby. Once again security stopped him and I think he had to dispose of it or eat it before entering the elevators.

They did have signs up that clearly stated "No outside food or drink", but I think it was very loosely enforced. We were even worried or not they would make us toss our Rockhouse drinks (which I noticed are getting more and more popular in this down economy) but we didn't have a problem taking them to our room.

Heck, we had an ice chest with bottled waters, soda, etc that we took with us since we were in town for almost a week, but we always valet so it's not like we are running around the casino floor with our ice chest in hand (which I've seen more than once at other properties). The bell guys didn't seem to have issue with it, most of whom we ran into seemed very down to earth.

We did bring some of our own alcohol but had that was all "hidden" in our luggage. Just a few bottles of wine and a small bottle of vodka, but we mainly just get drinks on the strip. I cant imagine Encore inspecting everyone's bags before taking them up to the room, that would be a real invasion of privacy and makes me glad all my luggage is locked.

I can see what Hard Rock is trying to do, and in most cases I think they should check bags if they fear something dangerous may be inside, but if they start inspecting everyone's baggage, this could really lead to people choosing to go elsewhere.

Next they are going to say that if you must buy cigarettes, it has to be at the property you stay at and for $8-$10 a pack.

That'll get the tourists back to Vegas!

March 11, 2009 8:12 AM Posted by Art M.

I totally understand some of the more upscale places doing this. Encore certainly doesn't want Eddie Grizwold walking through with his sixer and snorkel. Hard Rock, eh... I think they're touching themselves a bit but it's off the strip so whatever. I just hope it doesn't become some kind of a trend, especially at the places near the heart of the strip. A big part of the appeal to drunkards like me is being able to buy a pocket sized bottle of Jack for $12 at ABC and take it wherever I want. If I have to pay $8 for a shot of whiskey everywhere I go, that is just going to ruin my day.

March 11, 2009 8:17 AM Posted by Hunter

Personally, I don't think any hotel should do this at any time. Who cares what you bring to your room?

March 11, 2009 8:43 AM Posted by TC from Boston

I figured it was standard procedure for staying at the hard rock...bringing in your own mean to tell me all those people I saw on that Rehab TV show were staying inside the hotel and didn't pregame with there own cheap booze?....because that would be impressive