Sit back and picture Vegas: we can guess what’s in your head. Neon strips. Roulette wheels spinning like carousels. Pristine casinos, so shiny they look like they were made just for you. Las Vegas is the land of entertainment opportunities - you’ll never be bored here. But if you’re reading this, what you really want to know is, will you be safe?..
Will I be safe in Las Vegas?
In a word, yes. Vegas casinos operate such tight security that they’re considered to be some of the safest places to explore in the world. On the Strip, you’ll find a self-contained economy that thrives on people feeling safe enough to stay in one casino and spend as much time (and money) playing as possible. Threats are a distraction and let’s be honest, not much fun, which is why security cameras and illuminations are everywhere. Head down to Las Vegas Boulevard and you’ll also note that the glitz and glamor are punctuated by a police presence.
6 ways to stay safe at the slots and tables
People carrying large amounts of money attract thieves and pickpockets in any city. But the number of slots and tables in the city may pose some unique considerations to tourists who don’t want to draw attention to themselves by flashing their cash. Here are some good ways to keep your money and valuables as safe as possible:
1. Stow your wallet in your front pocket rather than back. Wrap a thick rubber band around it to make it harder for it to be lifted out.
2. Why not invest in some travel-safe wardrobe pieces? Travel blazers contain special zippered inside pockets. Or if they’re too much hassle, a trusty fanny pack is a tourist classic.
3. Won on the slots? Excellent - drinks on you! But before you cash out, make sure you’re done playing to avoid having any of it lifted. If you’ve won really big, ask the casino for a cashier’s check.
4. Keep purses and backpacks on your lap or on a special hook that slides under the armrest of some blackjack tables. Do not leave them on the floor where a bag snatcher can grab it. Better still, stow your bags in your locked hotel room to avoid this scenario entirely.
5. You’re doing really well at the tables. Your chips are piling up. Maybe so high a thief can see them clearly from the other side of the room. Don’t make a totem pole of your winnings - exchange them for a higher denomination to keep things safe and a little humble.
6. Play safe by avoiding all betting games outside the casinos.
What about areas around Vegas?
Like any city, Vegas has its fair share of areas to avoid as a tourist. Sin City was founded by the mafia, after all. Side note, if you want to learn more about this, take a trip Downtown to The Mob Museum, housed in an old courthouse. Discover the mafia’s original vital role in shaping the Vegas gaming industry before hitting its speakeasy to trade notes over a drink.
The legacy of criminality, con artistry and gang violence still exists today, but the modern landscape of Vegas is very different.
Put a spotlight on the neon city
Gangs are very much still a feature of the area outside of the Strip and Fremont Street. Darker neighboring streets are subject to car break-ins, theft and vandalism. One to bear in mind if you’re considering a car rental while you’re there and need a place to park.
- City officials are doing a good job of cracking down on crime, but like any good tourist in a new city, do your research before setting off to any unfamiliar area.
- Vegas gangs are often named for the neighborhoods in which they commit their crimes, so check what people are saying about the places you intend to visit before you set off: The ‘Gerson Park Kingsmen’ are named for the Gerson Park public housing complex, for example. There are also gangs named for Donna Street and Vegas Heights. The Las Vegas Valley has reportedly been home to hundreds of street gangs in recent years.
- If you’re travelling by car, exercise caution north of the Encore resort, near the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) and near McCarran International Airport, owing to a slightly greater risk of car break-ins, theft, and vandalism.
While on the subject of a car rental, we know they supply greater autonomy, but why not skip the designated driver part and relax into the Vegas experience? Uber, Lyft and the city’s super-secure monorail and bus transportation system are an excellent alternative to getting behind the wheel yourself.
If this is your very first time in Vegas, take the opportunity to see the city by foot. The length of the Strip is around four miles, so there’s no better way of walking off a buffet than by taking a stroll and discovering some incredible hotels along the way. You can wander in and out of these huge entertainment complexes, wiling away the hours in true Vegas style before taking your picture at the ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ sign, just beyond the Mandalay Bay Hotel Resort and Casino.
But if you’re new to Vegas or America in general, stay safe on foot by making sure you don’t jaywalk. Use a suitable crossing point or bridges and don’t cross into traffic as the city is heavily policed.
Savvy travel in the city of lights
So when it comes to visiting Vegas, you’ll be safe as long as you stay savvy. Remember to search before you explore. Whether you’re looking for an authentic local experience or a parking spot, in this city and any other you visit, check out neighborhoods and areas online first. Read what other tourists are saying before you set out and be mindful of places in Vegas where gangs feature, usually in certain areas off the Strip.
Be scam smart by limiting how much you buy or take part in outside of the casino. Street vendors are an unsafe option. Stick to licensed shops and don’t buy water, VIP passes or take part in games, kerbside. And remember, what happens in Vegas may not stay in Vegas if you don’t drink responsibly. Try and have fun while keeping your wits engaged.
However you decide to travel, get around like a local. You’d probably avoid unmarked taxis at all cost at home, so do the same in Vegas. If in doubt, speak to casino staff who’ll recommend transport companies affiliated with the casino. If you also have the Uber and Lyft apps, great, but remember to check the profiles, ratings (the higher, the better) and registration against the car you climb into. The monorail is also an excellent mode of transport that maintains strict safety measures - just remember to check its schedule first.