10 Tips for Taking Photos Inside Any Las Vegas Casino

Las Vegas casinos have a reputation for having strict policies prohibiting photography. Those policies can suck it.

Photography is a great way to capture and remember our experiences, so knowing how to dance around antiquated guidelines can be very useful during a Las Vegas visit.

Here, then, are 10 tips for taking photos in any casino while avoiding run-ins with casino security, law enforcement and The Man. Let the security breaches begin!

Photos in casinos

One of our favorite things to do is take photos of “No Photos” signs in casinos. Yes, we need to get a life.

1. Use the Smallest Camera Possible

In Las Vegas, size matters. One of the keys to taking photos in casinos is to avoid being noticed. The smaller the camera, the better. Smartphone cameras tend to blend in, while larger, DSLR cameras can draw unwanted attention. Casino security is on the lookout for what’s considered “professional quality equipment,” so use your phone’s camera whenever possible.

2. Take Stills, Not Video

Just as a small camera is preferable to a larger one, still photography is less problematic than video, even if it’s taken on the same camera. Don’t push your luck. A snap is less likely to be noticed than a pan.

Casino craps dealers

Reactions to photography in casinos varies widely. Thanks to these dealers at Cosmo for not having a freak-out.

3. Turn Off Your Flash

This is a biggy. Using a flash is like a giant neon sign over your head that screams, “This person is violating the rules. Use your Taser on them immediately.” Every camera has the ability to override the automatic flash, so simply turn the flash off. It means you’ll have to hold the camera still to avoid motion blur, but you’ll get better at it with practice. (Try resting your camera on something to keep it steady, or tuck your elbow in and use your arm like a tripod.)

Las Vegas casino

One of the great ironies of Las Vegas casinos is they don’t want you to take photos, yet they make them so darned pretty.

4. Never Use a Tripod

Speaking of tripods, they’re an absolute no-no in casinos. This is the one rule that makes sense on the part of casinos. Tripod legs are a danger to other guests who are often either drunk or distracted by all the shiny things in a casino. Tripods also fall into the “professional quality equipment” category, so leave them in your hotel room so they’re handy for the homemade porn. Not that anyone would do that kind of thing in a Las Vegas hotel room, of course.

5. Work Quickly and Keep Moving

It’s easy to discreetly take a few photos and move on, but if you linger, you risk being stopped and questioned by security. Think through where you need to be for your photo so you get it right the first time. It’s not a photo shoot, and the longer it takes the more likely you’ll be chastised by an employee or security.

Vegas go-go dancer

Under no circumstances should you take photos in a casino’s party pit, unless you have every intention of sharing your photos with this Las Vegas blog.

6. Play Dumb, Drunk or Pretend You’re Hard of Hearing

Seriously. These strategies are the key to successful photography on a casino floor. Hit your spot and start snapping. Chances are someone on staff will say, “No photography!” Yes, it’s almost always with an exclamation point. Do not acknowledge the person. Keep snapping. They’ll shout again, probably louder. As you continue snapping (you should have dozens of photos by this time), turn and say, “I’m sorry, what did you say?” You’ll get the “No photography” thing again. Then say, “I didn’t realize I couldn’t take a photo here.” You get bonus points if you add this to help smooth things over, “I’m so drunk, I can’t figure out how to use the camera, anyway.” You have your photos, the employee has done their due diligence and everyone’s happy.

7. Never Shoot the Cage

While these tips apply to 99% of a casino, all bets are off when it comes to the cashier cage. Most casinos use security concerns as an excuse to ban photography, but that reason is outdated and misguided. Casino thieves don’t need photos to case a joint. These tips might work for cage photos, too, but why tempt fate? Steer clear.

Riviera cashier cage

One of our favorite rules is never obey rules. You’re a Vegas pro if you recognized this cage as Riviera’s.

8. Avoid Photographing Guests

As mentioned, casinos often cite security as the reason photography is prohibited, but the real reason they don’t like photography is related to customer privacy. Casinos know people are often in casinos that shouldn’t be, and are often with people they shouldn’t be with (like mistresses or even prostitutes). We’ve taken thousands of photos inside casinos, often including guests, without incident, but do as we say not as we do.

9. Find Photography-Friendly Casinos

Bans on photography aren’t universal in Las Vegas casinos, and some casinos are downright welcoming of photography. Harrah’s Las Vegas, for example, welcomes photography as long as the photos aren’t of customers. Four Queens, downtown, actually has signs encouraging photography.

Four Queens photography welcome

Possibly the best thing since brothel gift certificates.

10. Always, Always Be Polite

If you’re approached by a casino employee, always be polite and never let the interaction get confrontational. Security guards tend to get overzealous, and tensions can escalate quickly. If it does, you’ll lose, so just be nice. If asked, explain your photos are for personal use, not commercial. Never offer to delete photos you have already taken, and do not let security review your photos, as they do not have the legal right to do so. Odds are you’ll be treated like a child being scolded, but keep calm and don’t take it personally. Ask to speak to a manager, and sort it out with someone higher on the food chain. In the vast majority of cases, if you’re nice, and avoid acting like you’re doing research for an “Ocean’s Elven”-style robbery, you’ll be reminded of the rules about photography and be sent on your way.

Here’s the bottom line: We’ve never heard of a case of someone being kicked out of a casino for taking photos. Turn off your flash, stay away from the cage, work quickly, act dumb and keep things light if you’re confronted by a casino employee.

We’d love to hear your casino photography stories, especially if they involve pretending to be drunk. Because you’re nearly as adorable when you’re pretend drunk as when you’re actual drunk.

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  • Rebecca Kennedy

    Good advice Scott! You got a great picture of that dancer! Wow! I was taking a picture of the architecture that surrounds the cage at the Main Street Casino and was promptly told no photos of the cage. I never even thought about it. But no one said anything when I photographed the rest of the casino.

  • Martin Veneroso

    Good advice, for sure. On the subject of “someone kicked out of a casino for taking photos,” I direct your attention to the story of Poker Grump (blogger Robert Wooley, former resident of Las Vegas) and getting backroomed and banned for taking photos in the Cannery (the original, as I recall): pokergrump.blogspot.com/2009/02/i-got-backroomed-by-casino-security.html

  • This just happened to us at Palace Station. We were taking a picture of a completely empty bar. Pretty hard to understand the objections to that. I asked if I could take picture of the buffet sign and got an emphatic NO!!! The security guard instructed us to delete the pictures but happily did not actually stand there and watch us do so. (We didn’t)

  • wanker751

    I recently got my first ever royal flush at a local here in NWI.

    I had a tech next to me and I take out my phone to take a picture of it, which she craps on. Not letting this situation go to waste, like a pro I stand up and pretend to text my friends and quickly grab a picture… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c3f4099b82c3d6407bcc31ae5982aeec348eee24e6367182aebde78f35caf437.jpg

  • Photoncounter

    Perhaps ten years ago, on my birthday, I was playing a penny slot at the Orleans and hit a handpay for over $2,000. I took out my phone and took a picture of the screen. A Barney Fife came over and yelled at me, said I couldn’t do that. Why? The slot screen was copyrighted was his answer. I already had my picture. About a half hour later the candle on a VP machine was flashing for my $4000 royal. Of course I took that picture. Barney was on me again. I told him to get his Supervisor. Where was the information posted that you couldn’t take pictures? He said all over the casino. Show me one I said. He couldn’t. I further said that I needed documentation of the copyright violation as I may pursue this in civil court, sounds like a great Class Action lawsuit! They left me alone.

    I have maybe a thousand of pictures of jackpots since then. I have never been hassled in any casino, take lots of pictures and video with my cell phone and other surveillance equipment.

    Very good article but you don’t mention that certain times it is more advantageous to take pictures than others. They eye in the sky isn’t perfect.

  • Had my cell phone on by accident https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WDIMosWNXs

  • Bouldersteve

    The casinos have for the most part given up on the no photos policy from what i have seen. Too hard to enforce now with cell phones.

  • franko

    I can’t remember the last time I’ve been told no pictures. I don’t do at the tables, but all over the casino and bar areas. Also, I think regularly featuring Valeria will help drive plenty of eyeballs to your blog. She’s probably the most popular bartender at the Gate and even sweeter than she is beautiful.

  • CanGirl

    I have never had a problem taking pictures in the casinos in Vegas but have had the security watch and then double check that we deleted one here in Vancouver.