Our network

Cracking Down on Smut Peddlers? | Gaming News

Title (Max 100 Characters)

Cracking Down on Smut Peddlers?
Gaming News

LAS VEGAS, Nv -- When large groups of people crowd into a small area, you will find advertisers pushing their products. In Las Vegas, sometimes that means selling sex. Freedom of speech protects these peddlers, allowing them to stand on the public sidewalk handing out cards promoting an escort or exotic dancer to your room.

Harrah's Senior Vice President and former Las Vegas Mayor Jan Jones says the tactics have become more than just handing out cards. “There could be 40 to 50 distributors of this literature standing in the middle of the sidewalk, from my point of view, harassing our visitors,” she said.

The hotels have wanted them off the sidewalks for more than a decade. The American Civil Liberties Union says anyone has the right to be on the sidewalk and the peddlers are exercising their freedom of speech. Repeated court decisions over the past 10 years back that up.

“Those sidewalks that go up and down Las Vegas Boulevard are a public forum and are to be used like any other public forum for purposes of free speech,” said Allen Liechtenstein with the ACLU.

Thirty-seven million people visited Las Vegas in 2008. This year is expected to be close to that number, with many tourists walking Las Vegas Boulevard. Jones says in certain areas, the sidewalk becomes very narrow and the card peddlers block foot traffic, giving people no way to avoid them.

Jones says its not just adults they solicit, it's also children. “None of these families want their children not only seeing, but being handed entirely inappropriate materials,” she said.

Lichtenstein says provocative material on the Strip comes with the Las Vegas image.

The solution for Jones is to designate places in very congested areas where the peddlers can stand out of the way. She says it's wrong to block a public sidewalk. The ACLU agrees and says they are willing to talk over solutions, but Lichtenstein says those talks come with a warning. “The idea that somehow or another it's a step toward the ultimate goal of clearing the sidewalk of people that the hotels don't want there, the county spent a lot of taxpayer money -- wasted a lot of taxpayer money -- fighting that particular battle. Hopefully it will not happen again,” he said.

He adds that no one has come to him with a plan for those congested areas.

“Tourism is down. We want to make sure people feel comfortable coming here. We want them safely to be able to access public streets,” said Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani.

She says it might be time to revive the discussion. “We probably ought to take a look at the whole corridor again and say what's there, what is working, what isn't working, and how can we better move the flow of people,” she said.

Lichtenstein says some hotels still send their security out to harass the peddlers and others on the sidewalk. He says the security threatens to arrest them if they don't move. He adds any compromise for the congested areas must come with the understanding that the harassment by the casinos will stop.

No official meeting has been scheduled.

Gaming News

The Strip Deals

The Strip Businesses