Clark County could mandate hookah lounge licenses after crime in ‘rogue’ establishments

Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 11:21 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Clark County officials are looking at creating a license for hookah lounges, after Las Vegas Metropolitan Police said some establishments were skirting zoning requirements, operating without proper permits or even causing noise and violence.

The most recent high-profile incident involved Mannys Glo, where 13 people were shot and one person was killed. According to police, the business did not have a liquor license or even a hookah permit.

Many times they advertise as nightclubs, advertising for admission fees, bottle service, live entertainment, dancing girls,” said Lt. Ailee Burnett with Metro Police, who explained that various lounges do not have proper permits for those activities. Some, she said, also have illegal gambling, and rowdy crowds preclude violence.

A separate license would require a background check and further vetting, Burnett said.

“There’s good actors. There’s very very bad actors. And then there’s people just trying to stay afloat,” said Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick, who said in her work with the Health District, there are language and cultural barriers to understanding what licenses are required among owners. Kirkpatrick called for more education, especially if a license will be required in the future.

“It’s a very successful business. It’s part of the Las Vegas lifestyle. So we don’t want to put them out of business or cause any harm. A license itself, that’s something we can accept and support because we’re trying to really raise the bar,” said Commissioner Tick Segerblom, who said he consulted with hookah owners on a proposed license, hoping more regulation can give established businesses more credibility.

Segerblom said he would work to either limit or eliminate the costs for a new license for already-established businesses.

Paymon’s, which launched the concept of the hookah lounge back in 2000, approves of a license; the establishment recently removed “hookah” from its name, due to bad publicity from other establishments.

“It’s a cultural get-together, bringing people together for relaxation. Unfortunately, it’s definitely taken a turn… it confused a lot of people and we were getting calls, said Jeff Ecker, who created a family-friendly establishment that emphasizes food.

“That’s the sad part: anybody that’s familiar with our culture, you’re smoking the hookah with family and friends. There’s hugs and kisses. There’s not gunshots,” Ecker said.