You love visiting Las Vegas because it’s unlike any other destination. That’s not always a good thing, however, especially for those unprepared for how different it can be. Here are some insider tips you’ll wish someone told you before your first trip.
Bring More Cash than You Think You’ll Need
And then bring more than that. Las Vegas is one of the last places on Earth that isn’t cashless. Gambling will require actual greenbacks, not virtual ones. And the ATMs in Strip casinos now almost universally charge a $10 “convenience fee” per transaction. If you still find yourself strapped, here’s a map of actual bank ATM locations on the Strip and downtown.
Don’t Drive in the Summer
You’ll need to buy a sunshade immediately — rental cars don’t include them — or find yourself constantly in search of covered parking. Ignore this warning and your car’s interior will melt. This is not an exaggeration. Some car interiors, especially if the seats and dash are black, can reach 150 degrees in direct Vegas summer sun. This will easily melt water bottles, Chapstick tubes, and even dashboard plastic. It will certainly explode all unopened soda cans you made the mistake of leaving in the trunk. Oh, by “summer,” in Vegas, this means May through October.
Bring a Jacket in the Summer
That has to be a typo. We mean the winter, right? No. Properly conditioning the air inside a huge casino, where the doors are constantly opening and closing, isn’t a science. Temperatures can dip below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. And, especially after acclimating to an hour of walking the Strip in 114 degrees, even 70 degrees can feel like 60.
Don’t Try Hailing a Cab on the Strip
It’s dangerous and will never work. The taxi and rideshare lines at the resorts can’t be avoided because it is 100% illegal for either to stop in the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard to pick you up or drop you off.
Make Dinner Reservations
That gastropub you discovered in the Arts District on your last trip that was empty? A social media influencer discovered it after you, and now there’s a line around the block.
Cups and Cans Only on the Strip
Yes, you’re allowed to legally drink on the Las Vegas Strip, but only if the alcohol is contained in plastic, paper, or aluminum. If you buy your booze from a curbside bar, no problem, they know. But if you purchase it from a package store or supermarket, or brought it from home, don’t use the glass that housekeeping left in your bathroom. And definitely do not drink it from bottle it came in. Either is a misdemeanor carrying a $250 fine and/or 30 days in jail. Good news, though: public intoxication isn’t a crime in Las Vegas.
Don’t Smoke the Weed You Purchased Legally
Though the cops won’t break down your hotel door, the hotel will add a fee of $250 or more for deodorizing your room. Oh, and don’t smoke in public because that’s illegal and could get you cited. The only legally sanctioned place to smoke in Las Vegas is inside a private residence, or at one of the hundreds of cannabis lounges that still have yet to open due to regulatory delays.
We probably should have headlined this section: “Don’t Purchase Weed Legally.”
Don’t Buy Illegal Drugs
White powder in a bag can be anything, and even dried magic mushrooms can be laced with fentanyl. It’s not a smart idea to ask your hotel’s concierge for a hookup, either. Even if they seem really cool, they won’t want to risk their hospitality career for the $20 you might throw them after you score. In fact, they could even alert security about your request, though that’s unlikely.
This is not to imply that illegal drugs can’t be obtained safely in Las Vegas (i.e., without a night in the hospital or Clark County Detention Center, or both) but it’s never a sure bet, and much less of one if you’re not a celebrity. Sorry, we didn’t make the rules, we just report them.
Carry an External Phone Battery and Working Cord
The 1950s was a great time to visit Las Vegas, but that wasn’t because everyone was completely unreachable for hours at a time. In Vegas, you can never predict how long you will be separated from your room and its sweet, sweet electricity. Even if you’re certain you’re only taking a quick trip to play 6:5 blackjack at the Mirage, you will either hit a lucky streak or run into your childhood friend Bob, who you didn’t even know was in town and who will convince you to watch him play roulette until 1 a.m. because he has “a system.” Only later will you discover that your friends snagged an extra Adele ticket and were trying to reach you all night. By the way …
Never Play 6:5 Blackjack
Regular blackjack pays 3:2. If you bet $10 and draw a blackjack, that’s $15 in your pocket. At a 6:5 table, a $10 blackjack win only pays $12. This simple change in rules increases the house’s 1.5% edge up to another 1.77%. Over enough time, no gambling ever pays off. However, 6:5 will get you to that point much faster. Speaking of which …
Activate Your Scam Radar
This is the longest entry, because it describes the biggest subset of people and situations to watch out for.
Anyone standing around in a costume on the Strip offering to pose for a photo with you expects a $10 or $20 tip and will get ugly with you if you think $1 or $2 will suffice. Ditto the “official photographer” at the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. The sign has no official photographer. Instead, hand your phone to the tourists waiting behind you in line. And yes, there will be a line.
Also, avoid any tents promising “free show tickets.” These are timeshare salespeople. In exchange for your “free” tickets, you will be forced to sit in a presentation room for hours. Here, experts in manipulation will use deception and pressure, for as long as it takes, to close a deal that is 100% in their best financial interest and 0% in yours.
And while you’re riding in those taxis that you ended up waiting in a resort line for instead of hailing, never take the drivers up on their unsolicited activity recommendations, especially for a strip club. Cabbies earn kickbacks by delivering passengers to certain destinations and they’re usually not the kinds of destinations that generate word of mouth based on their quality and/or value.
Finally, avoid anyone offering to give or sell you a VIP pass to a trendy nightclub. These passes are not VIP. They’re not even P. Plus, after you take one, you will be pressured for a tip. As a matter of fact …
Avoid the Trendy Nightclubs
Whether you’re in town to just have fun or to hook up, waiting in line for an hour or more — longer if there are no females in your party — can kill the night before it begins. Anyway, the down-to-earth people with normal self-esteem who you want to meet are having a perfectly great time at the casino bar with their other friends from Iowa. And they would love to meet you, too. Just make sure to …
Avoid Extremely Attractive Ladies Drinking by Themselves at Casino Bars Who Seem Like They Want to Meet You Too Much
If you’re wondering whether she’s an illegal sex worker, then, to paraphrase Vital Vegas blogger Scott Roeben, she’s an illegal sex worker. Whatever you do, don’t invite her to your hotel room. She could get you in a vulnerable position and attempt to steal your expensive watch, jewelry, and all that cash you brought to avoid the $10 ATM fees. It’s called trick-rolling and it’s close to a perfect crime because, in order to successfully prosecute her, you will need to reveal what transpired to a jury, which will generate a news story that also reveals what transpired to your significant other and to any HR hiring reps who Google your name in the future.
Despite the hooker billboard trucks on the Las Vegas Strip, and the cards handed out featuring scantily clad women and a phone number, prostitution isn’t legal anywhere in Clark County. The closest place that allows it is a 90-minute drive away, and only then in a licensed brothel.
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