While these celebrities apparently lack the civilized manner we here in New Zealand are proud of, we would be happy to show them ‘how it’s done’ and remind them that they are not, yet, banned from our own spectacular casinos – and that we have scenery and sights which are way above and beyond anything in the Las Vegas desert.
Ben Affleck has always had the reputation of being just a bit too clever for his day job. Whether it’s writing and starring in his own movie, or mastering the art of card counting, he’s more than ‘just an actor’.
Affleck may be a big fan of poker – he regularly hosts what’s known in Hollywood circles as ‘Ben’s Game’ – high stakes poker tournaments with fellow A-listers Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire. He’s a regular player and winner. Card counting is notoriously difficult to learn. It involves rigorous practice and a lot of mental gymnastics. While it’s not strictly illegal in casinos, it is grounds for barring a player – as Affleck discovered when he was banned from the Hard Rock Casino.
But, Affleck is more than just ‘good’ at card counting – in 2004, he won the California State Poker Championship, along with a $365,000 prize. In the past, he’s won almost $1 million from the Hard Rock Casino in two trips, and even won $140,000 in a single sitting of Blackjack, giving his prize money away to the casino’s staff.
We imagine the staff must have had mixed feelings in banning him, after that.
If you’ve been lucky enough to see Derren Brown’s stage shows during one of his New Zealand trips, then you know that the British ‘visual illusionist’ can manage his way around a deck of cards.
He might have also mentioned that he is a very unwelcome guest in virtually every British casino. In fact, Brown’s notorious card counting skills (and his frequent TV specials) led to his direct ban in one casino in Birmingham, UK.
In May 2013, Brown entered Birmingham’s Broadway Plaza Casino and headed to the blackjack tables. The staff, knowing exactly who he was, asked him to leave, fearing it would ruin the casino financially.
Brown took it all in good faith, tweeting a picture of himself being escorted out of the building, meanwhile adding it to his (probably ever-growing) list of casinos in which he is no longer welcome.
We think it’s time Brown moved to playing online blackjack instead.
The British boy-band could be excused for thinking they were old enough to gamble, since the legal gambling age in Britain is 18 – however they didn’t factor that in on their trip to Las Vegas, where the legal gambling age is 21.
The five – Harry, Louis, Zayn, Lia and Niall – were all under 21, leading to the Palms Hotel casino management placing them on high security, and kicking them out.
Closer to home, over at Australia’s Pearl Room casino in Perth, the manager gave Harry Styles ‘a severe dressing down’ for overspending at the Blackjack tables – and being underage.
‘Weezy’ himself managed to get banned from the Wynn Casino and hotel in Las Vegas, which didn’t stop his close friend Drake from hosting a party there.
The casino management have never revealed exactly what it was which led to Lil’ Wayne’s banning, only that they ‘don’t want any trouble’ from him, and that if he attempted to return he would be forcibly removed.
Maybe it was to prevent a live performance of his universally panned 2010 album ‘Rebirth’?
We’ve saved the best ‘celebrity’ for last: and yes, you did read that correctly – Paris Hilton – heiress, DJ, ‘singer’ etc. – was banned from a casino which proudly displays the Hilton name above the door.
Although she’s no stranger to casino bans, the 2006 incident comes to mind as she was banned by her father himself.
Hilton had been playing in a high-stakes poker game, a game she describes herself as ‘obsessed’ with, and her ‘favourite’. Unfortunately, she doesn’t seem to have been too good at it, losing her $165,000 Bentley. Her father, in turn, told Paris to seek help for her apparent gambling problem, and enforced his word by banning her outright.
Like we said, it’s tough to be a celebrity in a casino.