UPDATED 8/6, 10 a.m. ET: The Crown Casino in Melbourne denies Ben Simmons' suggestion that he and his friends were racially profiled by casino security. In a statement to TMZ, a spokeswoman for the casino explains that the 23-year-old was asked to provide identification because of an age policy.
"Crown strenuously rejects reports that it discriminated against a group of visitors last night," the statement reads. "Crown's internal security policy requires our security officers to check identification of those persons they believe to be under the age of 25, this is an enhanced safeguard to ensure that no one under the age of 18 is permitted entry to the Casino Floor as required by Law."
The spokeswoman went on the state that the casino did allow Simmons and his team to enter once their age was confirmed.
As for Simmons, he continues to insist that they were subjected to racist behavior. "As you know an incident happened last night at Crown and my friends and I felt personally singled out," Simmons responded. "No one likes to feel like this. I am very passionate about equality and I will always speak up even if it means having uncomfortable conversations."
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According to TMZ, Simmons was attempting to go to Melbourne's Crown Casino on Monday when security denied him entry. In a video obtained by the publication, Simmons claims casino officials turned away his whole crew except for one white friend.
Because of Ben Simmons' celebrity, it's almost impossible this event was a case of mistaken identity. Since he was a child, Simmons has been a basketball prodigy in Australia. At just 15 years old he participated in the FIBA 17-and-under World Championships before coming to America in his senior year of high school, where he was ranked the No. 1 player in the nation. He's also only the third Melbourne-born player to be drafted No. 1 overall. As a result, the NBA player suggested the incident at the casino was racially motivated.
"I find it so crazy that the only guy who doesn’t get checked to go into the casino is this guy," Simmons says in the video, putting the camera on his white friend. "I get checked, Mike gets checked, and Taj gets checked. ... They didn’t let me in, or him or this guy. Wow, we got a long way to go."