A man in Arkansas was hoping to enjoy a Friday night with his husband at an area casino, but says he was barred from entering because of his purse.
Jordan Kirk was carrying a 9-inch by 10-inch cross-body purse when he and his husband tried to enter Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs on Aug. 7, KARK reported.
A security guard stopped Kirk and told him he would have to return his purse to his car, despite several women carrying backpacks and large bags who were allowed to enter, Kirk wrote in a Facebook post.
When he refused, the security guard told Kirk that he had to return it to his car because “men do not carry purses, they carry bags,” Kirk said. The guard also told Kirk that his purse was considered a bag because the strap went over his shoulder, according to the post.
Kirk requested to speak to a floor supervisor after a woman in line pointed out that her own purse was much larger than the one Kirk was carrying, the post said. But the floor supervisor agreed that “men do not carry purses” and told Kirk he must return the purse to his car to be admitted, Kirk said.
When Kirk asked if a woman would be admitted if she were carrying Kirk’s bag, the security guard allegedly told him yes. Ultimately, Kirk spoke with a general manager who determined Kirk would be allowed on the casino floor if he agreed to have his purse searched, according to the post.
“They were worried that a man carrying a ‘bag’ may have explosives,” Kirk said, adding, “Who is going to blow up their Louis Vuitton on purpose?”
Kirk said he agreed to let security check his bag but told casino officials that he felt he was treated unfairly because women carrying larger bags weren’t searched upon entry.
Media Relations Manager Jennifer Hoyt addressed some of Kirk’s remarks in a statement to the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record on Sunday.
“As an important point of clarification, the general manager of Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort was not present during this incident, but our regularly scheduled security team and casino floor manager were there and did permit Mr. Kirk to enter the facility with his bag where Mr. Kirk stayed for almost an hour,” she said.
In a follow-up post, Kirk said he never claimed that he wasn’t ultimately admitted, only that he had to fight to be allowed to carry his purse into the casino.
The casino’s director of marketing, Joan Botts, messaged Kirk on Facebook to apologize for the incident, adding that “the situation has been addressed with our team members,” the Sentinel-Record reported.
In a statement to KARK, the casino said security is one of Oaklawn’s top priorities.
“In keeping with our policy and commitment to provide the highest level of safety precautions, our personnel reserve the right to inspect incoming bags, backpacks, satchels, etc. regardless of form or size,” the statement said. “It is essential we reserve this right in light of Oaklawn being a large public venue.”
“Finally, Oaklawn would like to apologize for any inconvenience this incident may have caused Mr. Kirk,” the statement to KARK concluded.
Kirk’s initial Facebook post about the incident has been liked more than 1,000 times and shared nearly 600 times as of Monday.