Step Away From These Las Vegas Scams

The Las Vegas Welcome sign with the Mandalay Bay Resort

George Rose / Getty Images

Everyone who has been to Las Vegas knows there are millions of ways to lose money in Neon City. From gambling machines to once-in-a-lifetime experiences, tourists and locals alike can find unique ways to spend their entire vacation budget in a matter of hours.

There are also plenty of bandits in Las Vegas that are not of the one-armed variety - and they're all looking for easy ways to separate travelers from their money with nothing in exchange. While a weekend in the desert can offer plenty of fun and relaxation, it can also come with many unsuspecting hazards. Las Vegas scams are prevalent and constantly target visitors to the city.

We may not be able to beat the house, but we can still travel like a Vegas insider when keeping in front of these Las Vegas scams. Every traveler should be on the lookout to avoid these regular situations. 

The Long-Route Driver Scam

Catching a taxi or rideshare in Las Vegas can be a taxing experience. Travelers coming out of the airport must wait in long lines to get a cab, while others at off-strip hotels may have to wait for their driver to be summoned. Even those who utilize a rideshare service can get turned around quickly by a combination of their location and where they are supposed to meet their driver. Once they do find a driver, tourists may get taken for much more than a ride. 

While taking fares for the "long haul" can happen anywhere, this is one of the most common Las Vegas scams. As a result, riders may end up paying more, thanks to their driver taking an alternate route that often adds more miles to the meter, resulting in an increased fare.

Travelers who know their way around Vegas should map out the most direct routes, and ask the drivers to stick to those routes. Those who feel they may have fallen for this Las Vegas scam should take up a complaint with the city taxi authority.

Finally, consider paying the taxi fare in cash, or leaving the rideshare driver a cash tip. Drivers can be more accommodating when cash is on the line. In addition, Las Vegas taxis charge a small fee for fares paid by credit card. 

Skimming for Credit and Debit Cards

Utilizing a cash advance machine or ATM on the casino floor is a common experience for many travelers trying to make their money back. However, that simple trip to withdraw a little more gambling money can often cost travelers a lot more. 

Because Las Vegas has one of the highest concentrations of ATM machines in the world, card-skimming scams can affect anyone. Moreover, card skimming is one of the scams in Las Vegas that universally goes after all travelers - from those in the casino to those at the gas pump. 

Disguised to look like part of the machine, card skimmers gather card information once the magnetic stripe is swiped. From there, the scam artists can use that information to illegally access the cardholder's funds at other institutions.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to spot a skimming device. Travelers should always consider using ATMs at banks, or in secured, high visibility locations (including airports). If an ATM feels like it could be compromised, then walk away and find another ATM. 

The "Free" VIP Upgrade

Anyone who has walked the streets of Las Vegas knows it is impossible to pass a block before somebody tries to offer a "free" experience. Those who stop long enough to hear these scam artists out or give them money often get very little in return.

One of the more common Las Vegas scams includes running into "promoters" on the street, offering a free "VIP" experience at a local establishment. Although they claim to be free passes, these "promoters" will often ask for a gratuity as a thanks for the passes - usually a $20 bill or anything else they can take. 

In actuality, these VIP passes are often only good under heavy restrictions or have no value whatsoever. In the end, the traveler is left with a fancy piece of paper with no benefits.

If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Travelers who are approached by a "promoter" should simply decline and walk away. Travelers who really want an "in" to nightclubs and other establishments should make nice with their resort concierge or a travel agent, as these true Vegas insiders can help anyone get the access they want at the right price.

Las Vegas can bring out the fun in almost anyone but only when travelers placing a personal bet on their safety. By being aware of these common Las Vegas scams, travelers can ensure their adventures stay pleasant, fun, and maybe even profitable!

Was this page helpful?