Las Vegas Scams: 10 Ways to Avoid Taking It In the Butt

What a wondrous place Las Vegas is. Of course, no city is perfect, so we’ve compiled a list of ways you can avoid being reamed in Sin City. Here’s to not taking it in the butt!

It's a metaphor. Or something.

It’s probably a metaphor.

1. Don’t Fall for the Hotel Floors Lie

Ads make some Vegas hotels sound like skyscrapers, but the numbers don’t always add up. For example, the Rio promotes views from 51 floors up. But floor numbers in the 40s are missing (Asian superstition-related), so it’s really 41 useable floors. Still a great view, but not 51 floors. The 55 floors touted by The Palms are 44 (no 40s, no 13th). Encore starts on the 5th floor and skips the 13th, too. At Wynn, there’s no 4th floor, and none in the 40s. Buyer beware!

In Japanese, "four" is pronounced as "shi," which is also the word for death. That's why.

In Japanese, “four” is pronounced as “shi,” which is also the word for death. That’s why.

2. Don’t Get Long-Hauled

Authorities have started to crack down on taxis taking unnecessarily long routes, especially to and from McCarran International Airport, but tales of inflated charges still circulate. Educate yourself, read more about this shameful scam, and report suspected abuses. You might also want to visit the Nevada Taxicab Authority site to calculate the rate you should be paying for your ride.

Cabbies cheat Vegas visitors out of about $15 million a year by some estimates, give or take a WTF.

Cabbies cheat Vegas visitors out of about $15 million a year by some estimates, give or take a WTF.

3. Don’t Play Games Unless You Know the Rules

Gambling can be a great form of entertainment, but unless you want to throw your money away, learn about the games you intend to play. Know the odds and practice the game’s strategies before you risk your bankroll. The house still has the advantage, but at least you’ll have a fighting chance. Oh, and if you see a keno machine, run.

A house edge of up to 25%? We weren't kidding about the running away thing.

Keno has a house edge of up to 25%. We weren’t kidding about the running away thing.

4. Don’t Play 6-to-5 Blackjack

In case you missed item #3. The practice of providing blackjack tables that pay 6-to-5, rather than 3-to-2, for a blackjack costs visitors a lot, and has infected many of the casinos in Las Vegas. The 6-to-5 games add another 1% advantage to the house’s edge of 1.5%. Ugly.

The house already has the advantage, they don't need any more.

The house already has the advantage, they don’t need any more.

5. Don’t Pay $500 or More for Cognac

Are you a cognac lover? Get ready for a $500 pour at places like Restaurant Guy Savoy at Caesars Palace. Prices vary widely, but if you head to Mob Bar, downtown, that same $500 pour of Rémy Martin Louis XIII cognac will cost $150. That should more than pay for the cab ride, even if you’re long-hauled. (See #2.)

"Cognac" comes from a French term meaning "chalky soil." Sexy, huh?

“Cognac” comes from a French term meaning “chalky soil.” Sexy, huh?

6. Don’t Think Las Vegas Sign Photographers are “Official”

Visiting the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign when you’re in Vegas, especially for the first time, isn’t just a fun diversion, it’s the law. One of the tricky aspects of being in a photo in front of the fabulously famous sign is somebody has to take the photo. Opportunists have seized upon this, positioning themselves as the sign’s “official” photographer, even to the point of creating fake credentials. There are no “official” photographers at the Las Vegas sign. These people are looking for tips, and that’s fine if you feel they’re offering you a service, but they’re not sanctioned by the city or anyone else. Another visitor in line can take your photo just as well, at no cost, and you can return the favor.

Scammity-scam.

Scammity-scam scammy.

7. Don’t Be Gouged by Resort Fees

As much as they’re disliked by hotel guests, resort fees are a business reality in Las Vegas and are now so prevalent, it’s difficult to find hotels that don’t charge them. You can help yourself, though, by comparing both the amounts of these pesky fees and the services they cover. There are still a number of hotels without resort fees, but they’re often downtown or off The Strip.

Don't believe everything you read.

Bonus tip: Don’t believe everything you read.

8. Don’t Feed the Parking Meters at Town Square

There are a lot of great offerings at Town Square, the shopping center at the south end of The Strip. There’s Yard House, Meatball Spot, Miller’s Ale House and others, for example. Parking is free, and yes, that includes metered parking. Town Square doesn’t enforce the parking meters, so don’t feed them, unless you’re just feeling generous.

Two of the actual B.S. parking meters in question.

Two of the actual B.S. parking meters in question.

9. Don’t Get Suckered by Nightclub VIP Passes

We’ve all seen the slick nightclub promoters hawking their VIP passes along The Strip. Well, those VIP passes are worth about as much as they card stock they’re printed on. If you are an attractive woman, with attractive friends, you’re already a VIP. If you’re a guy, these VIP passes aren’t likely to make your wait in line shorter, or the cover charge less. These club promoters are likely to pressure you for a tip, too, making this doubly frustrating, since they make their kick-back if you show up at the club based upon their peddling. Never pay for a club VIP pass. Save your money for bottle service, which come to think of it, remains one of the very best ways to take it in the butt in Vegas, but this list was full enough already.

Fancy, huh?

Fancy, huh?

10. Don’t Believe a Celebrity Chef is Preparing Your Food

Las Vegas is truly the restaurant capital of the world, with dozens of restaurants backed by celebrity chefs. Ramsay. Lagasse. Colicchio. Nobu. Puck. Here’s the thing, though, you’re often paying more for that celebrity name, but the celebrity chef is never, ever in the kitchen, other than for the occasional photo op. About the closest you’ll get to a celebrity chef actually preparing your food is if you visit a Gordon Ramsay restaurant, like Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris or Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesars, because the outspoken Brit hires the quasi-celebrity winners of his reality show, “Hell’s Kitchen,” as chefs in his restaurants. (Although, even then, their jobs are a little nebulous, and the show winners work under more experienced Executive Chefs.)

Bam! Nice guy, but not making your soup.

Bam! Nice guy, but not making your soup.

Las Vegas is a great place to visit, but there are still plenty of opportunities to be duped. Our best advice? Be skeptical, stay informed and keep reading this blog! Why, what’d you think we were going to say?

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  • PeterD

    Wise words Scott. Good luck with this site, always liked your blog before and happy that you are carrying on as this.

    • vitalvegas

      Thanks, Peter! Appreciate that a lot.

  • Gods, keno. Run away indeed. Everything about keno, triple it for special keno games.

    I remember on That Other Vegas Blog someone mentioned the Stimulus special at Harrah’s, with a top payout of $15,000 for a nickel bet on all-or-nothing Pick-10. The odds of hitting 10-for-10 are about 1 in 8.9 *million*. That makes the house odds an unbelievable 96.63%. For a little more perspective, if Harrah’s made the house edge the keno standard 25%, the prize would be just over a third of a million dollars.

    • vitalvegas

      Yikes! We never actually did the math on that, but “Holy groin punch, Batman!”

  • dominoid

    Good blackjack pays 3-2 not 2-1. However you are correct that 6-5 is horrible.

    • vitalvegas

      Thanks so much for letting us know about that error! We fixed it.

  • Tony

    Ha, Lies about the VIP club passes. I come from LA all the time. 3-6 times a year. I always hit the clubs with these. More and more I see the lies from the club hosts and employees who say the passes are fake. WRONG!!! Just give them to the cashier. These hosts don’t get paid on passes which come in, promoters do. You do have to watch your ass because some promoters are crackheads and will sell their grandmother. If the passes were fake, the police would arrest them, so go to a high traffic area where cops can see them selling, get the guys phone and real name (I asked Darin, my connect to see his license). Some of these guys have been doing it for years because the passes are printed by the clubs. It is the best way to get into the clubs. I never have problems. As for cabs, good luck coming from the airport in a Desert or Nellis cab. Just take the streets, not the freeway. It is not faster and costs about $8 more.

    • vitalvegas

      Great tips. Thanks for passing those along, Tony.

  • Lorne

    Don’t buy CD’s from the guys on the street. I bought one from a guy that told me it was his original music…signed it & everything…got home & there is nothing on the CD!!

    • vitalvegas

      Very disappointing, and good to know, thanks.

    • Blue Flame

      Also be careful of them since they are a scam. They have hustled people by signing a CD for someone who doesn’t want one and at first they are told it is free. Once they had the CD to you, they want a $20 donation and other “aspiring rap artists” will approach you and want you to accept their CD and pay them $20. In some cases people have been assaulted:

      http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/crime-courts/former-actor-punches-tourist-strip-gets-probation

  • Alesso

    DON’T buy “open bar, no waiting in line, VIP” wristband for a club from anyone on the strip. These guys dont work for the club. You will be laughed at when you try getting in. I learned this the hard way.

    • Scott Roeben

      Agreed, thanks.

  • Robot

    I’ve lived in Vegas for a while now so here’s my opinions. Uhh #1 is not a scam..Hotels have to cater to suspicions because they have guests from around the world and they actually lose money if they do and not realizing certain suspicions has almost made certain casinos go bankrupt in the past. They aren’t lying about how many rooms they have, they are just numbering them differently.

    As far as access to nightclubs the rule is the person outside handing out the ticket or bracelets are NOT the ones who charge you. They are supposed to give you the bracelet and you get charged at the door. It has their code on it so they get a take and you get some sort of deal. If they are charging you for a bracelet it’s because they stole them so they wouldn’t get anything when you use it. Real promoters hand those things out like candy. Also if you can find the man holding the same bracelets inside the casino. Only 1 or 2 guys is allowed to promote inside and is usually the one actually in charge meaning he’s the only one who could potentially get you a better deal.

    The biggest scam is in fact bottle service. Why would you pay thousands to sit at a booth and drink a $50 bottle of grey goose? Especially since you still have to tip your hostess graciously. If you believe it’s worth it for the girls you are so sad, those girls are literally just there to sit down and get free booze. It’s so much easier than the old days when you had to sit at the bar and wait for a guy to buy you 1 drink at a time.

    If you go anywhere under the suggestion of a local, they are getting a cut but that doesn’t mean you are getting scammed. I could have no affiliation with a place and if I hear someone say they want to go to a stripclub could say I’ll call us a cab. I can call up the club and say bring a cab I have customers and I’ll get $50 a person. You wouldn’t even know because you still paid the same amount you always would have and maybe even less (some of the rides there are actually free). All you would know is the girl you came with disappeared in the bathroom a little after you got there. The rule of thumb here is you never pay the person offering you the great deal, their cut is has to legally come from the establishment.

    I’m also not sure why everyone says the girls on the card is a scam. I’ve heard 1 person call for a girl from them and of course it wasn’t the girl from the card, but he said she looked similar and really hot. The girls on the cards being different is not to scam you, it’s to protect the girls. The second you use your photo in a prostitution ad you can be arrested for prostitution without even getting caught exchanging money for sex. Using the escort services will actually keep you from getting scammed by that Streetwalker or Craigslist girl who will just steal from you or give you a disease.

    Umm duh your food isn’t being made by the chefs…They have places all over the world, they aren’t Santa Clause and can’t cook for everybody. You are paying for the fact that the head chefs were usually trained by them to make their recipes.

  • DoRoSa

    I visit Las Vegas last week for the 1st time in my 46 years of living. It was truly an experience for me. I didn’t get to take in all the scenery; was only there 2 days. But, I seen quite a bit. Very interesting and entertaining city, with lots to do, even if you aren’t a gambler Anyway, one of the things that stood out during my visit was these 2 guys-very gorgeous and muscular, might I add, who was charging $20 to take photos with them. I was thinking, Las Vegas folks surely know how to hustle people out there money. I mean, these guys weren’t celebrities or anything; they just looked good and women were taking pictures with them and they were charging them. $20 if you wanted both guys in the picture and $10 if you wanted only 1. I take it, things like that is a norm for a place like Las Vegas.

  • Castun

    Just an FYI about some buildings that “skip” floors, it’s not uncommon for high rises and skyscrapers to have entire floors dedicated to mechanical equipment for HVAC. They’re not always in the basement or top level. Of course, most buildings still skip 13 altogether, though the skipping 40s is something I hadn’t noticed before.

  • Blue Flame

    If you are the type who goes to strip clubs, be careful in Las Vegas. Some Vegas Strip clubs will give you a limo ride to their establishment but ask that you give a hefty tip to the limo driver, security guards, bouncer, floor host, etc. In addition, dancers will keep harassing you trying to get you to do a private dance since this is how they make money. The drinks are also overpriced and there is usually a minimum of 2 drinks at $20 a drink. All this is in addition to a cover charge that is $40 or $50.

  • John-Mj Hendricks

    Number 8 is wrong you better feed the meter or you can find your car booted