Sparks casino tells mom she can’t take special needs son to restroom

Joanne Maluotoga said security at a Sparks casino would not allow her to bring her son, Evi, with her into the women's restroom (SBG)

The mother of a disabled son hopes businesses will make changes to better accommodate the privacy of people with special needs.

Joanne Maluotoga takes her 32 year-old son, Evi, to Bingo at the Nugget Casino in Sparks often.

"I love Bingo," Maluotoga said.

Joanne says Evi has special needs.

"He was born with Cerebral Palsy. He also has M.R., which is mentally retarded. He has the mind of a baby," Maluotoga said.

The mother and son have been going for more than a decade. When Evi needs to use the restroom, she takes him with her to the women's restroom -- just like any mother does with a small child.

But one Saturday last month, security guards approached her just as she sat down.

"We sat down, and the two security said, 'We ask you not to bring your son into the women's head because we've got complaints,'" Maluotoga said.

For 11 years she said she's been taking her son into the women's restroom. He's 300 pounds and Maluotoga said her son needs help. She said this is the first complaint she's heard.

"I said, 'Oh, is there a family bathroom here that I can take him?' [The security guard said] No. And I said, 'So what are my options?' [The guard replied] 'Well, can your husband take him,'" Maluotoga said.

Maluotoga said her husband is also special needs, so it's not always safe for the two to go together.

Security did volunteer to take Evi to the restroom.

"He also has spasms, so he can have a seizure and fall. So for that security to offer me to take him, he said he'd take him for me, I'm like oh no, he's special needs. He might get hurt, he might fall," Maluotoga said.

The Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities at the University of Nevada, Reno said the American's with Disabilities Act said the casino has to make accommodations for people with special needs.

The Nugget Casino said there are no plans for any new bathroom construction. Spokeswoman Caddie Dufurrena said in the case of a special needs guest who needs assistance from security/management, they would either clear a restroom from then or escort them to an employee restroom, whichever situation was most convenient for the guest.

But Maluotoga knows that the Nugget isn't the only business that is faced with the bathroom dilemma for special needs people.

"None of the casinos have family bathrooms. I think that's a bad thing," Maluotoga said.

Maluotoga hopes the casinos would offer family restrooms or at least post signs at the bathroom to contact management if special needs guests require assistance.

She's not sure she'll be back to the Nugget.

"I love the Bingo, I love to play Bingo. I guess I'll go somewhere else," she said.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off