I've always defended Las Vegas. Yeah, it's a city of gross extravagance and people probably shouldn't gamble and drink to excess in the desert heat, but hey, it's one of those iconic American places that I just love the idea of. I've usually had fun there and, after all, it's America's playground. Don't mess with tradition, I say!
But this last time in Las Vegas some things really irked me. I don’t know if I’m just getting older and less tolerant, or if these things bother anyone else as much as they do me.
1. Smoking indoors
It's 2013 so why are Las Vegas's casinos so callous about the health of their patrons and dealers? I was horrified to find people puffing away on the casino floors and refused to gamble anywhere that wasn't smoke free. This is appalling. Walk through just about any casino and prepare to have burning eyes and polluted lungs. I sincerely hope the lawmakers in Nevada get their heads together on this and come up with some solutions. The worst thing I saw was a pregnant cocktail waitress trying to fight her way through the smoke and crowds to deliver drinks. Not healthy at all. This single reason alone will make me reduce or outright end my trips to Las Vegas. If Atlantic City can do it, why can’t LV?
Tip: Seek out clean-air friendly (well, friendlier) casinos. Our best experiences were at The Bellagio, which has non-smoking tables, and The Mirage, which just seems to cope with the smoke better. MGM Grand is pretty smoky inside but you can ask your dealer at any table to make it non-smoking if no one else sitting down objects. Have you found others? Let others know in the comments below.
2. Organization at the airport
When you get off the plane you head straight for baggage claim, right? That's what we did arriving in terminal C this time, but apparently the Las Vegas airport added a new terminal and didn't bother to add some signage to direct passengers arriving in that terminal to THEIR baggage claim. This was my fourth or fifth trip to Vegas and I always remember it being the easiest airport to arrive to and depart from. Not any more. We followed the signs to baggage claim. Hmmm...since when does McCarran airport have a train? On arrival we realized that our carousel number 19 was back where we came from. We felt stupid about this until the shuttle driver informed us that this happens ALL the time. We listened to horror stories about families struggling at the airport because they were either lost or not able to be dropped off in a convenient spot by the free shuttle. Get it together Las Vegas! You are a tourist destination.
Tip: Pay attention at the airport. If you arrive in terminal C, that is where your baggage will be. Don't get on the train.
3. Clueless people
Picture it: you’re on a roll winning at blackjack when two women sidle up to your table and sit down. They pull out their money and you think you’re getting some company at the table. Then the questions begin. Is this blackjack switch? Oh, it isn’t? Well, where are those tables? How many tables do they have here? The conversation continues for a good ten minutes while your dealer is distracted by them, intermittently stopping to offer directions. The pit boss comes over, you think to stop this madness, but he just joins in. Finally, one of them leaves. They aren’t playing. The other one lights up a cigarette and decides to have a little break and watch you, a smoke-free enthusiast, lose for a little while. Because the streak ended when they sat down. True story. I don’t know who is more clueless here, the women or the pit boss who should have taken control of the situation and freed up the dealer to do her job. The information desk is next to the cashier.
Parents: get your five year old and his gigantic Shamu floaty off the casino floor. What is he doing wet, barefoot and yelling next to me as I lose money in the slot machines? That seat is not for him to lean against and, I might add, he’s not benefiting at all from the chain-smoker exhaling in his face or the drunk about to spill a gin and tonic on his head. I stay out of the resort pool so the children have room to do cannonballs and play Marco Polo all day, so why can’t you give me the same respect. Even worse, where is the guard whose job it is to make you take your kids out of the casino?
Tip: I still haven't learned how to deal with obnoxious strangers, but if it's in my power or they are really bothering me, I tell them what's what. We shooed that smoking woman away from the table when we saw she wasn't going to play. Just watch out for the angry drunks - it's not worth it to get in a fight. In that situation, just move on as there are plenty of other places to play in Vegas.
4. Strip transportation
Beware staying out late and far from your hotel into the wee hours of the morning on the Strip. You could easily be stranded or have to wait an hour in line for a taxi, especially on the weekends. There are a few public transportation options on The Strip, including the monorail and some limited free trains and trams between select casinos. But this isn't always an efficient way to get around, especially in the heat or if you find yourself too drunk to navigate. Add in the often standstill traffic on The Strip and you can find yourself so frustrated by the process you might just wander back into the casino and keep gambling until the sun comes up. Maybe that's their plan?
Tip: If you don't want to deal with this, pre-arrange a car service to collect you at the end of the night. Or try going out close to your accommodation on busy nights like Friday and Saturday. Or just embrace it and pull an all-nighter. After all, you're in Las Vegas. Just don't get so drunk that you can't safely handle yourself.
5. Rude or incompetent dealers
So many dealers are really friendly and entertaining that I hate to complain about them. But what about the sour ones who emit no personality, are downright gruff and rude or worse, the ones who routinely miscount or forget to pay out bets. This happened to us at one of the new casinos where a roulette operator kept forgetting to pay some of the bets. It really sucks when you're on a good table and encounter someone like that because then you really have to pay attention to his every move. And you don't want to be the jerk who reports someone. I also have a gripe with the dealers who talk too much. I don't mind a bit of banter but we had one lady start telling us her life story while we were playing roulette and we didn't know how to handle her questions. One word answers weren't giving her the hint so we suffered for a little while before moving on. That shouldn't be the player's burden.
Tip: When you're sussing out a table, evaluate the dealer too. If someone is really out of line, ask the pit boss to make a change. It's your money.
What don't you like about Las Vegas?