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The Truth About Vegas Myths

Are there really hundreds of bodies buried just outside the city limits of Las Vegas? Could be, since the place was built by gangsters, right? Well, there are plenty of rumors and myths about Las Vegas.

It’s the quintessential adult storybook land. A mature playground where you can do and say things you can’t anywhere else.

But are the crazy myths about Las Vegas true? Well, let’s see.

What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas

Somewhere deep in the confines of the Las Vegas Visitor’s Authority, someone came up with the slogan, “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas.”

It’s very catchy, and it might be comforting if you came to Sin City to hang out, get drunk, and go home with a massive hangover. But listen up.

Vegas, if anything, is worse for hiding secrets than most vacation spots. Your friends are going to talk about the trip to Vegas like it was the second coming of that hot waitress with the bellybutton ring.

They’ll amp up every story and spin yarns based on how drunk you got. So, how accurate will they be? It depends on your friends.

Just be prepared, because to start with, there are cameras everywhere. And you can’t get off the plane without running into slot machines, police, or people you know. The real Las Vegas motto should be,

“What you did in Vegas was seen by plenty of people,
even if you don’t remember.”

Las Vegas Was Founded by Mobsters

Las Vegas (The Meadows, in Spanish) was a layover along the Old Spanish Trail in the mid-1800s. The valley offered an oasis along a hot, dusty trail. The building process started in the downtown area around the turn of the century.

Gambling, whiskey, and easy women were prominent for decades before gaming was officially legalized in 1931.

When it was legalized, the early casino owners were the crazy people who already lived where the average summer temperatures ran up to 110 degrees. There was no air conditioning. For the most part, they weren’t gangsters.

Some might have had heat stroke, but come on. The guys with the fedoras came later, attracted by tourists, new buildings, and new money.

Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lansky, and Moe Sedway took over the Las Vegas Club, El Cortez, and other downtown casinos in the 1940’s, and built the Flamingo Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip in 1946.

Does that count as founding Las Vegas? We don’t think so. Did they make it more exciting? Yeah, no doubt!

Prostitution Is Legal in Las Vegas

Yeah, not so much. No matter what those guys handing out the glossy pictures of naked girls down on The Strip say. Not that you can’t find a hooker in Vegas, because you can. But it isn’t legal.

On the other hand, prostitution is legal in seven counties in Nevada.

Really! Right now, there are two dozen legal brothels in the state, including two in Pahrump, about 90 miles from Vegas. No, we didn’t make up the city name.

Pure Oxygen is Fed into Casinos to Keep Gamblers Awake

Well, there’s an old story that a Las Vegas property had pure oxygen pumped into the casino to keep the players peppy and gambling late into the night. But that’s just a story by Mario Puzo.

You think anyone needs oxygen to stay awake
in the City That Never Sleeps? Hardly.

If you do fall asleep, it’s probably because you’re drunk (see the next myth). Not only would it cost a fortune to fill a 100,000 sq. ft. casino with pure oxygen, it would also be totally dangerous. Oxygen is an accelerant and could lead to a fire, and Vegas doesn’t need any more of those.

Casinos Pour Heavy Drinks to Get People Drunk

You don’t need an over-poured drink to get drunk in Vegas. You just need to order another drink, and they’re free if you’re gambling. Sure, people make bad decisions when they drink (not you, right?), but nobody’s forcing you to drink alcohol.

Want to stay awake?
Have an energy drink.

Want to confuse your body so you make even more sketchy decisions? Have an energy drink with your alcohol. Or, you can believe the myth that the casinos short-pour all their drinks to make more money.

For the most part, casinos toe the line with the local alcohol board and pour their drinks according to what is offered on menus. If there’s no menu, you are most likely to get a single shot straight from the dispenser gun. Casinos are practical, if nothing else.

1,000 People Died in a Hotel Fire

The Towering Inferno was a movie, not a fact. Still, on November 21, 1980, the MGM Grand Hotel experienced a horrific fire that started in a closed restaurant and shot a fireball through the casino and started the building burning.

As smoke billowed from the shattered doors downstairs, it also drifted up into the hotel. All told, 85 people died, but mostly from the smoke and not the fire itself.

650 people were injured. Over 1,000 were rescued by helicopter from the roof of the building.

Casinos Want You to Lose

Well, yeah, that’s the point. Table games and slot machines are designed (not rigged) to keep you playing and having a good time. And they are designed to give you a chance to win if your luck is running high. Still, the casinos don’t rely on luck.

Casinos rely on statistics. Well, that and players. The more players there are, the more money is being bet, and even if the house only has a tiny edge like 1 percent at baccarat, it’s all good in the long run. You might only get to play for a couple of days while on your vacation. That’s not the case with the casino.

Casinos are open 24 hours a day, and eventually, they will bleed even a millionaire dry. So, they might not want you specifically to lose, but they want their daily percentage of the total dollars wagered. Get over it and enjoy the fun.

You Can Get Free Rooms in Vegas

Yes, you can get a free hotel room in Las Vegas if you are gambling enough. Casino hosts and the player’s club are happy to comp you if your play is significant enough. What qualifies as a significant amount depends on where you are gambling.

It takes a lot less play to get a comped room (or a casino rate) at the Orleans or Fiesta Station than it does at the Wynn or the Bellagio. Simple quid pro quo.

People Who Live in Vegas Know How to Gamble

Well, one of the biggest lies told by locals in Vegas is, “Yeah, I just broke even last night.” The second biggest lie is, “My truck’s paid for.”

Still, gambling is gambling. You can learn to count cards at blackjack or play top-notch poker, but basically, the house wins. Repeat that like a mantra: the house wins. So, many locals don’t gamble at all.

As one girlfriend put it, “I like my money right where I can see it, hanging in my closet.”

Casinos Reset the Slot Odds on Weekends and Holidays

No, they don’t. They don’t need to. Vegas is always busy. The house always has the edge, and you’ll have a good time if you budget your money and play only with cash that you have set aside to lose. Enough said about that.

Penny Slot Machines Are Cheap to Play

Well, that depends. You can play some machines for as little as a penny, but most require a minimum number of credits or lines played per spin. Often, that minimum is 10 credits. Overall, penny slots are tough. How so?

According to recent Nevada Gaming Control Board stats, at about 89 percent, penny slots in Vegas have the lowest payback of any slot denomination.

So, yes, they are cheap to play.

But, overall, your investment there is likely to be worse than at other machines. And, if you are playing multiple lines, you may be playing a buck or more per spin.

Casinos Hire Shills to Cheat You

Casinos used to hire pretty girls to play dollar slot machines and whoop and holler when they got any payback. It was a marketing ploy. Some properties used to use shills at their blackjack and craps tables to “prop up” the play. They were never employed to cheat the players.

Today, some casinos still have prop players who take seats at empty poker games to help get them started. They are usually good players. They are playing their own money. They won’t cheat you, but they will beat you. So, act accordingly.

Dealers Cheat for Big Tippers

Dealers at most properties in Las Vegas make between $50,000 and $100,000 per year. There are cameras trained on each game. Floor supervisors watch the dealer’s moves. Can a dealer cheat? Sure, it can happen.

Will they cheat to make you a winner and risk their job for a few bucks? No. Will they do it for substantial money? The answer is probably still no, and you don’t want to ask and find out. If you ask, you’ll probably get thrown out of the casino. Rumor dismissed.

There Are Hundreds of Bodies Buried Outside Las Vegas

Rumor has it that anytime there was a big winner or a gangland dispute, the bodies stacked up. Yes, there were some big winners, but they didn’t disappear into the desert.

They went home and told their friends, which prompted a hundred new players to go to Vegas and lose more than that winner ever got home with.

As for Mob hits, there was an unwritten rule that there would be no killings in Vegas.

Why screw up a good thing?
Scores got settled elsewhere.

When “Russian” Louie Strauss tried to shake down Horseshoe Casino owner Benny Binion, Jimmy “The Rat” Frattianno drove him to San Bernadino, California, in 1953. Then he and Frank Bompensiero hit him. Yes, Strauss was buried in the desert outside Las Vegas. Way outside.

Vegas enforcer Tony “The Ant” Spilotro was trying to shake down everyone, and may have been involved in the car bombing of Stardust Casino skim-manager “Lefty” Rosenthal. Spilotro and his brother were whacked in 1986. They were buried in Indiana. Also way outside Las Vegas.

Your Friend in Vegas Can Hook You Up

Great. Go see your friend. If they work at a casino, maybe they can get you a free meal or a discounted room, but otherwise, they’re just your friend. Not many people know someone who can hook you up with tickets to see Elton John for free. Sorry, just the facts here.

Don’t believe us? That’s all right. Most rumors and myths about Las Vegas are built on partial truths. But even the silly ones are worth seeing for yourself.

Vegas is always open for a good time. How many other places can you say that about?