This blog post is not for the faint of heart, because it talks about Las Vegas secrets most people would prefer not to know. This post is for everyone else. Fair warning.
So, every once in awhile you hear about something weird or morbid happening in Las Vegas. But what you might not know is strange, disturbing, morbid things actually happen all the time, you just never hear about those. That’s because a city built on tourism has to sometimes keep things on the down-low.
In the case of Las Vegas, 99% of what happens in hotel-casinos stays in hotel-casinos. Journalists are complicit. Law enforcement is complicit. Hotel employees and management are complicit. Just about everybody’s in on it, because if you freak people out, the thinking goes, they might not visit.
That’s boneheaded thinking, of course. It’s Las Vegas, and in Las Vegas, morbid things are fun and any weirdness just adds to the allure of Sin City. So, here we go. It’s time for some awkward Vegas secrets.
Las Vegas had more than 40 million visitors in 2014, and guess what: Any number of them died in their hotel rooms, most of natural causes. According to the Clark County coroner’s office, about 1,100 visitors die while in Las Vegas each year. The coroner’s office says 67 percent of those deaths are the result of accidents, 15 percent committed suicide and 11 percent were the victims of homicide. No cause of death could be determined in six percent of the deaths.
That’s not the weird part. What makes it weird is what hotels do when they find someone’s died in their room: They relocate the body. The reason? If a body is discovered by authorities in a hotel room, there’s a mandatory two-week quarantine of that room. That’s two weeks of potential revenue lost by the hotel. So, a few intrepid souls on the hotel staff move the body to a place on the resort grounds where a quarantine isn’t required.
Just try and find a single media story about anyone dying of natural causes in a Las Vegas hotel room, ever. We’ll wait.
Las Vegas hotels aren’t entirely cold-hearted, of course. For example, when a hotel guest dies, it’s standard practice to comp the room. Magnanimous, right?
They don’t tend to be as generous in the case of suicide, however.
When someone offs themself in a Las Vegas hotel, if the suicide results in damage to the hotel’s physical property, they will bill the family and survivors for that damage.
For example, if you shoot yourself to death, and the bullet goes through hotel furniture or the room’s window or TV, the estate of the suicide victim will be billed for the cost of repair or replacement. Imagine the shock of getting that bill!
And, yes, suicides are frequent in Las Vegas hotels, no matter how seldom you hear about them.
Aside from the usual drama in people’s lives, there’s also an element of desperation in a Las Vegas visit for some people. A common scenario is that people come to Las Vegas as a last-ditch effort to turn their remaining assets into a life-changing windfall. When Lady Luck doesn’t smile on them, they often see suicide as their only way out of the hole they’ve dug. Tragic, but anything but uncommon.
Just a tiny fraction of suicides in Las Vegas hotels are reported by the media. That’s how Vegas secrets stay Vegas secrets.
Hotels try to handle suicides discreetly, of course, with hotel team members handling deaths with military precision. Local ambulance companies and funeral parlors are sworn to secrecy. Journalists don’t talk about the deaths because if you cross a Las Vegas hotel company, you’re blacklisted, making your job nearly impossible in a town where hotel-casino public relations departments are the gatekeepers of information and access.
Some of the most gruesome suicides happen off of hotel balconies and parking garages, but the absolute winner in the area of ghastly suicides has to be the Luxor. Why’s that? Well, because if you jump from a balcony or parking garage, you land outside. At Luxor, because of its pyramid design, jumpers jump inside the building, into the casino and reception area. Yeah, horrifying.
We could regale you with endless morbid stories, but often there’s no way to tell if they’re real or urban myths, unless you witness it first hand or know someone who has.
It’s no secret, though, that bodies have been known to surface at the Linq hotel (formerly The Quad) during heavy rains.
That’s because something called the Flamingo Wash crosses the Las Vegas Strip at The Linq, and when it rains, victims (often homeless people who live in the storm drainage tunnels running under the city) end up floating into the casino’s parking garage.
There’s also the story of a Rehab partier dying of natural causes in the Hard Rock’s pool surrounded by hundreds of sun-seekers. In time, guests realized the guy wasn’t just playing a practical joke and lifeguards removed him from the pool. Hotel staff quietly whisked the guy away, greased some palms at the ambulance company and the story was never publicly told.
Not everything we don’t want to know about Las Vegas has to do with death, of course. Sometimes, it’s just plain gross or awkward. Naturally, we’re sharing it!
First, there’s a casino practice that happens at every casino, but which only a few insiders know about. Brace yourself.
Each night, members of the casino’s maintenance staff go from slot machine chair to slot machine chair with a combination of a sponges and paper towels, pressing them down on each seat. They do this to determine which seats have been urinated on by patrons too tired, drunk or lazy to get themselves to the restroom. (This problem happens with table game chairs, too, but much less frequently.) High-powered, industrial-strength devices, called “extractors,” are used to clean and dry the chairs.
Worth noting: When customers inquire with casino staff about their chair being wet, they’ll most often claim someone spilled a drink and offer a replacement chair.
Hey, when we said these are things you don’t want to know, we meant it.
Here’s another Las Vegas hotel truth: Every hotel-casino has security blind spots management would rather nobody know about. We’ve all heard a lot about the incredible surveillance hotels and casinos have, but here’s a true story that’ll make you think twice when staying at your favorite Las Vegas hotel.
A few years ago, a hotel guest at a hotel we won’t name checked in, paying for his room in cash. The next day, housekeeping entered the room to discover everything in the room had been stolen. And we mean everything. Every piece of furniture, fixtures, lamps, TVs, the whole nine yards, including a king-sized bed. Security scrutinized video footage from the hotel hallways, elevators and casino, but even after days of investigation they found not a second of video showing the removal of any of the stolen furniture.
Thefts and robberies in Las Vegas hotel rooms aren’t uncommon, unfortunately, so we recommend using common sense: Don’t leave valuables out in the open, take advantage of the in-room safe and keep your cash on you during your visit.
Another thing you probably don’t want to know about your Las Vegas hotel room? People you don’t know have had sex on absolutely everything in your room. Every piece of furniture. Every counter or table or other flat surface. Every sink and bathtub. Everything. The visual is great, but it’s best not to think of your room as you would your home. Housekeepers are very, very busy in Las Vegas.
Here’s a final Las Vegas secret you may or may not want to know. It involves sex again, so please don’t send a link to this blog post to your grandma.
In every major hotel in Las Vegas, there’s a special bin. It’s large, on wheels. And often, it’s filled to the brim with sex toys left behind by hotel guests. Every week or so, or sometimes more frequently, depending upon the size of the hotel, staffers dispose of the scores of sex toys into hotel trash dumpsters.
From what we know of this practice, the sheer number of sex toys found in rooms and disposed of via these bins is staggering. Visitors come to Vegas looking for a wild time, make their toy purchases at one of the many adult shops in town (many of the hotels have their own sex shops as well), but don’t necessarily want folks back home knowing what they’ve been up so, so they leave the toys in their room.
We’ve even heard people on staff at the hotel take their pick of the toys, presumably sanitizing them before use.
One notable find was a whopping three-foot-long device called something along the lines of the “Moby 3.” We are not making this up. Three feet. Because Vegas, baby.
It’s been so therapeutic purging all these weird Las Vegas facts and stories, so thank you for reading this far. If you have stories of your own, we’d love to hear them in the comments section! Now back to our regularly-scheduled blog posts about Las Vegas restaurants, shows and cocktails. Especially that last thing.