Ah, Las Vegas
It’s “The Entertainment Capital of the World.” With dining, gambling, museums, shopping, activities and nightlife, there’s something for everyone in Nevada’s premiere city. While you’re probably keen to learn some facts before planning a trip to Vegas, there are a few other tidbits you might prefer never to know about Sin City. From its history as a mafia hangout to modern day scandals and gruesome crimes, here are the gross, scary, sad, and downright salacious things that have taken place behind the motto, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”
Onto The Gruesome Stuff
Vegas is built on tourism and couldn’t succeed without the masses of visitors who visit each year. Of course, you might hear a story every now and then about a “misadventure” in Sin City, but those are isolated incidents. Right? Not so. Hotels, journalists, and law enforcement in Vegas are all complicit… unified to keep the city’s most sordid stories out of the press.
You Won’t Believe How Many Tourists Die In Vegas Every Day
Out of 40 million visitors in 2014, how many do you think died during their visit to Vegas? The answer, according to the Clark County coroner’s office, is about 1,100 every year. That’s about three each day… people who were just there to have a good time and blow off some steam.
What’s Killing All These Tourists?
It sounds like a combination of bad life choices and planned death trips. 67 percent of the deaths are accidents, 15 percent are suicides, and 11 percent of those are murdered. The remaining six percent are cases where no clear cause of death was firmly established.
They Die Where You Sleep
Of all those visitor deaths, a whole bunch of them are going to end up happening in a hotel room – a tourist’s home away from home. If a body is found in a hotel room, the staff will likely move it somewhere else to avoid a mandatory two-week quarantine of that room. Hey, that’s two weeks of lost revenue. It’s even rumored that hotel staff will sneak the deceased through hidden hallways or prop them up and wheel them right out through casinos with oxygen masks on to make them look merely ill, not dead.
This means that you could very well check into a room where someone had died just the day before. Sleep tight!
Nevada has one of the highest suicide rates in the entire nation. Often, if someone feels that they’re in a bind financially, they will book one last visit to Las Vegas in a desperate last-ditch attempt to turn their fortune around. Many are prepared to take their own lives if Lady Luck doesn’t end up being on their side. Suicide is the only way they see out.
The Luxor’s Reputation
One popular hotel is the site of many gruesome and public suicides. The Luxor is shaped like a pyramid, and one can jump from inside the top of the pyramid and directly into the reception area and casinos. What a way to ruin everyone’s good time, jerk.
She Couldn’t Take It Any More
In 1996, a woman jumped from a 26th-floor balcony at the Luxor and plummeted to the entrance to the buffet dining area. Witnesses noticed her sitting on a railing high overhead before she leaped. She was killed instantly, and died from severe head injuries.
Bad Luck Luxor
With all the tragedies that have taken place at the hotel, many believe it’s haunted. Supposedly, two workers were killed during the buildings initial construction. Combine that with the guest suicides, a brutal fight that left a UNLV football player dead, and a Luxor employee being killed by an exploding vehicle in the parking garage, and you’ve got a recipe for a haunting.
Suicide by Buffet
In 2015, a Las Vegas resident named John Noble fatally shot himself in the head at the M Resort Buffet. He first sent a note to the local newspaper, in which he blamed the suicide on a deep “depression that set in after the resort awarded him free meals at the buffet for life then banned him from the property in 2013 for harassing some of the women working there.” One of the notes that Noble left behind outlined all the tragic fates he hoped would befall the buffet’s employees.
Speaking Of Buffets…
So you’ve heard about the world-famous Vegas buffets and have worked yourself up quite a buzz from all the drinks you’ve consumed. Time to pig out, right? Not according to the people who work at those all-you-can-eat diners. Horror stories about food preparation and serving standards are rampant among people in the industry. Skip those places, no matter how hungry you might be.
Looks Can Be Deceiving
Think just because you’re paying top-dollar for a premium resort room that you can just kick back and relax once you’re checked in? If so, you might not want to read any further. People do some really sick things when they’re in Vegas, and a lot of them take place in those swanky hotel suites.
Maybe A Diaper Would Have Helped
It’s not difficult to find first-person accounts of what it’s like to work in a city that caters to oddballs and drunks. One redditor shared this heartwarming tale: “My [significant other’s] mom is a housekeeper for one of the fancier hotels on the strip. She has stories of entering a room and seeing food littered across the room and feces smeared across the walls. On the bright side, she also finds cocaine-dusted $100 bills that she just washes and pockets.”
Let’s hope she uses that extra cash on hand sanitizer and eye bleach.
Urban Legend Or True Story?
We’ve all heard the tale of the vacationing couple who smell a revolting odor in their Vegas hotel room, only to report it and learn that there’s a decomposing body hidden in the mattress they’ve been sleeping on. One folklore researcher says he first heard this tale in 1991. Although he was never able to confirm with 100% certainty, every single time he heard the story it cited Vegas as the location. He confirmed to Snopes that this did indeed happen.
Your Bedroom’s Surfaces
Think about this: a complete stranger has had sex on every surface in your hotel room. The bathroom counter, the desk, the nightstand. And who knows where the remote control has been. When you visit Vegas, bring a large tub of Clorox wipes and use them. It doesn’t matter how clean your room looks. Disinfect everything. We mean it.
Not Taking This one Home as a Souvenir
According to Vegas lore, each major hotel has a large bin on wheels located somewhere on the premises. What’s in these bins? Dirty towels? Guest bathrobes? Nope. They are full, sometimes to the top, with adult toys that hotel guests didn’t want to bring home with them. Once a week or so, a lucky hotel employee gets to wheel the bin out to the dumpsters.
When You Need A Fix…
In Vegas, prostitution is illegal, although it still goes on. An anonymous employee at a large casino resort says “We know prostitution and drug use will happen in the hotel; however, as long as it doesn’t disrupt our daily operations or you don’t do it right in front of us we don’t mind. We are not the moral police.”
Vegas is pretty famous for its quickie elopement weddings. There are dozens of wedding chapels in Sin City, where over 100,000 couples tie the knot every year. But Las Vegas also has a reputation for ruining marriages. Here are a couple of stories about relationships gone bad in Nevada.
Escort Horror Story
One Vegas escort recounts the time that she was called up to a hotel room for a bachelor party. On her way up, she shared an elevator with two other women. “One was drunkenly babbling about being mad at her boyfriend, and I really wasn’t paying attention until I heard one of the drunken girls say, “What room is he in? I’m gonna KILL him if there is someone in there!!” and proceeds to ramble out the exact room number I am going to. Oh lord. I double-check my phone to make sure that the long room number matches, and it definitely does. I’m stuck and can’t hit another floor number since I was first on, so I had to think of some sort of plan to not seem obvious.”
She ended up standing at the end of the hallway, pretending to search her purse for her room key while the ladies fought with, then stormed away from, the men she was paid to entertain for the evening.
And As A Last Resort
A Reddit user said that a strange man approached him on the street with a gym bag. The man opened his bag and showed that it was full of used thongs that he claimed exotic dancers had worn at least once. No word on whether the Redditor purchased any of the prize panties.
The Glamour! The Glitz!
One brobible contributor shared this story from his mother’s time working in a Vegas casino. “There was a man who was playing a megabucks type machine and had to go to the restroom. He told his wife to play the machine while he was gone. She did, but didn’t load the machine – only playing one at a time. The machine hit while he was gone – but not loaded. He beat her up and went to jail. She went to the hospital. This story was written in the local newspaper too.”
Think you’re safe sitting at that slot machine? Think again. Every single night, a casino’s maintenance staff has to wipe down each slot machine chair with a stock of paper towels and sponges. Employees can then find out which seats have been urinated on (people get really lazy when they’re drunk).
Hellish Employee Stories
Oh my, the lifeguards in Vegas have stories to tell. Brobible received this gem, from a former Vegas lifeguard. You get a real sense of the kind of shenanigans he had to put up with on a daily basis. “I life guarded at one of the pools on the strip, at one of the most notorious clubs. I watched a guy walk up to a girl, let her puke in his hands, smell the puke, then dump it on the floor and start making out with the girl. I had to yell at them for starting to strip as well. We would be cleaning up condoms, vomit, alcohol containers, clothing, syringes and all kinds of garbage up after closing every week, it was absolutely disgusting.”
Kiss From A Rose
One restaurant worker also has an unforgettable story about his time in Sin City. He worked the graveyard shift near Bellagio, and as he left for home one night he came across this unusual sight. “From out of nowhere, a giant, I mean GIANT homeless man… shuffled in front of the restaurant patio towards a trashcan on the sidewalk. He began digging in the trash and I [explicit language] you not pulled out a live ferret along with some other trash, kiss it on the mouth and just kept on walking.” Bet that was some fresh breath, on both sides.
Watch Your Drinks Closely
In 2009, and during other times in recent history, Las Vegas has been rocked by date rape drugging epidemics. GHB, Ketamine, Rohypnol are all commonly used, as they’re easy to discretely drop into a stranger’s drink. Unfortunately, testing for date rape drugs can be difficult so these crimes often go unreported to authorities. Keep an eye on your drink at all times!
Pools are a mainstay of any decent Vegas hotel. They’re a fun (and sexy!) way to escape the hot desert heat and relax after a long night of partying. But how clean do you think those pools really are? You might be reluctant to dip a toe in once you read this next tidbit about the pools in Las Vegas.
No Surprise… The Pools Are Full Of Urine
One 2011 investigation took samples of pool water at several of the popular pool hotspots: Tao Beach at the Venetian, Rehab at the Hard Rock Hotel, Wet Republic at MGM Grand, Ditch Fridays at the Palms, and Liquid at ARIA. Guess what they found? Water in all five of those posh pools tested positive for extremely high levels of urine and additional bacteria. Yuck!
Spokespeople for all five hotels issued statements about their state-of-the-art filtration systems and insisted that they encourage guests not to go to the bathroom in the pools. Unfortunately, revelers who are drinking (or drunk) are far less likely to get out of the pool to use the facilities provided. Because that’s a buzzkill, man.
Most people, when faced with a decision between swimming in urine (which is supposed to be sterile, right?) or swimming in a pool with a built-in death ray that can cause serious burns, would choose the pee pool. That’s exactly the dilemma that guests at the Vdara hotel have to face.
Unique, But Failed, Design
The Vdara has a unique look that sets it apart from neighboring hotels. But one of the hotel’s south-facing towers is constructed of shiny glass, and it’s placed at just an angle that it magnifies and reflects dangerously hot rays of sun directly into the pool area.
The Death Ray can increase temperatures 20 degrees in the vicinity. Victims of the Death Ray have reported injuries ranging from chemical burns to singed hair. One man says “I was effectively being cooked.” The ray melts plastic cups and has ignited newspapers. The hotel is confident it will find a solution.
As we’ll see next, the city of Las Vegas is a rich tapestry of tragedy and crime.
One of the most prominent and recognizable structures in Vegas is The Stratosphere Casino Hotel. Like many of the other hotels in Sin City, this one has its fair share of gruesome history. Its 1,149-foot-tall observation deck seems to be a beacon for those looking to end their lives.
A Long, Long Fall
Since its opening in 1996, The Stratosphere has hosted at least four jumping suicides. In order to leap from the observation deck, visitors must purchase a ticket. Melanie Bell, in town from Alabama, allegedly asked one of the casino’s resident Elvis impersonators whether people actually jump from the deck, just days before she did so herself. Thanks to its tragic history, The Stratosphere is considered to be one of the most haunted spots in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas has been home to many tragedies and crimes. In a 1981 inferno dubbed “The Hilton Fire,” a newly-hired Hilton employee named Phillip Cline set a wastebasket on fire. The flames quickly spread, killing eight people and injured more than 200. He claims he set the fire accidentally after smoking an entire PCP-laced cigarette. Vegas, baby!
The MGM hotel saw an even more devastating fire than the Hilton’s during the previous year. On November 21, 1980, faulty wiring started a blaze that ended up killing 85 people and injuring 679 more. Over 2,000 people had to be evacuated by helicopter in the terrifying ordeal. The fire was the third deadliest hotel inferno in U.S. history. The MGM was demolished and rebuilt as Bally’s Hotel and Casino, still operating today. There are rumors of haunted rooms in the resort.
High Stakes Kidnapping
Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn and his family were subjected to a terrifying plot when kidnappers abducted his 26-year-old daughter. Her eyes were taped shut, she was tied up, and she was forced to pose in her underwear. The kidnappers used the photos as blackmail. Wynn paid the $1.45 million ransom in cash. The daughter was safely returned to her family.
Cancer Is Fun, Right?
One of the oddest attractions in Las Vegas is the Nevada National Security Site (formerly the Nevada Test Site). More than 100 atomic tests took place here, just 65 miles away from Las Vegas, between 1952 and 1962. The powerful bombs attracted tourists to the area, and people even organized viewing parties to watch. Here’s the scary part: although this number has never been firmly established, it’s estimated that over 11,000 people have died as a result of exposure during these tests. You can still tour the site today.
A Sketchy History
The Mafia helped turn Vegas into the gambling mecca it is today. Infamous gangster Bugsy Siegel, with help from friend and fellow mob boss Meyer Lansky, poured money through Mormon-owned banks for a cover of legitimacy and built The Flamingo hotel in 1946. Some say that Siegel’s ghost haunts The Flamingo today, as it was suspected that he was stealing from the resort’s building funds and was later shot to death as punishment.
Other Celebrity Visitors
That was the beginning of Vegas’ reputation as a den of iniquity, and films such as The Godfather and Casino solidified that bond between the city and criminal activities. Stars like Elvis, Tom Jones, Phyllis Diller, Lola Falana, Don Rickles, Jerry Lewis, and The Rat Pack (the quintet of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop) frequented the town, and gave it a “glitzy” feel to tourists.
Not Such a Bad Thing, After All
Not everyone is upset by Las Vegas’ seedy beginnings. The state’s former archivist Guy Rocha says, “We owe a debt of gratitude to the Mafia for developing Las Vegas, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. It was the mob that moved (Las Vegas) forward, with the good, the bad and the ugly.”