Simmons Slams Casino for Racial Profiling

Tisha Walden | 15 Aug 2019

crownThe Crown Casino Melbourne has vehemently denied allegations of racial profiling levelled by local NBA star, Ben Simmons. Simmons took to social media last week to slam the Australian gambling venue for denying him and his friends access to the casino, based on the colour of his skin.

According to the 23-year-old Simmons, when his group attempted to enter the premises, only he and his black friends were requested to show their IDs, while their white friend was not. Simmons even uploaded a video of the incident to the Instagram, although this has subsequently been deleted. In the video footage, Simmons can be seen pointing at his white friend and explaining that he finds it crazy that he was the only person who did not get checked for identification. He reports that security would not let any of the others in, adding that we’ve got a long way to go.

Casino Denies Claims

Crown Casino management, in its turn, strongly denied that the group were denied entry based on racial profiling, explaining that anyone who looks younger than 25 is asked for their ID as a matter of course. The casino added that the entire group was granted entry upon producing their IDs at a different entrance.

Simmons nevertheless maintains, in a Twitter post that he and his friends were personally singled out. He said he felt passionate about equality and was determined to speak up even if it meant engaging in uncomfortable conversations.

Support for Simmons

Fellow sportsman and former NBA and NBL player, Andrew Gaze has come out in support of Simmons, since the latter went public about the incident on social media. Gaze described the Simmons’s behaviour as courageous and urged the public to try to see things from his perspective. Gaze added that he felt the Australian public had been too quick to judge the situation without knowing all the facts.

Victoria Sponsorship Deal

Owing to a five-year US$70 million extension to his contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, Simmons is now believed to be Australia’s highest-paid athlete.

In addition to this contract extension, a lucrative sponsorship deal with Victorian tourism body, Visit Victoria has further added to the point guard’s bottom line. According to Visit Victoria, this commercial arrangement enables it to use Simmons’s profile to promote the south Australian state as an international tourist destination.

As yet, Visit Victoria has not indicated whether or not the Crown Casino incident will influence its arrangement with Simmons.