Crown Casino has rejected claims by Australian basketball superstar Ben Simmons that he was was racially profiled by bouncers at the venue’s gambling room entrance.
Simmons, 23, said he was barred from the Melbourne casino after staff demanded he present ID.
In a video posted to his 4.3 million followers on Instagram, the Melbourne-born Philadelphia 76ers guard implied the reason for the group being turned away was his skin colour.
“I find is crazy that the only guy who doesn’t get checked into the casino is this guy,” Simmons said, turning the camera to a friend with lighter skin.
Simmons, whose father is African-American, then turned the camera to himself and two friends.
“I get checked, Mike gets checked and Tys gets checked.
“Thank you Crown Casino, damn, and they didn’t let me in, or him or this guy.
“Wow, we got a long way to go,” he added.
Simmons deleted the Instagram video but later responded to claims on Twitter that he was barred because he was wearing camouflage patterned pants, breaching the casino’s dress code.
“My friend who got let in also had camouflage pants on,” he wrote this morning.
My friend who got let in also had camouflage pants on ..
— Ben Simmons (@BenSimmons25) August 5, 2019
Crown has since denied that bouncers racially profiled Simmons.
“Crown strenuously rejects reports that it discriminated against a group of visitors last night,” a spokeswoman for the casino said.
The casino prohibits patrons under 18 from entering its licensed gambling areas.
“[Crown’s] internal security policy requires our security officers to check identification of those persons they believe to be under the age of 25,” the spokeswoman said.
The spokeswoman also rejected the accusation from Simmons that he and his friends were not let in to the venue.
“The group subsequently provided identification and were permitted entry,” she said.
Simmons is considered Australia’s highest-paid athlete after reportedly signing a $242 million contract with his NBA team.
He has spent the last week in Australia promoting the film The Australian Dream, which centres around the Adam Goodes booing controversy.