What happens in Vegas……no longer stays in Vegas. Maria Pierides attempted to lift the lid on what goes on in Sin City and search out some intimate confessions from Vegas-goers all around the world. Some of them, inevitably, have remained anonymous for reasons you will discover…
Las Vegas is a city of many sides. It’s a haven for gamblers and a high-roller’s wet dream. It’s also the prime location for a stag’s last night of freedom, and a place for all the lonely hearts to feel wanted. Even if it’s seen as nothing more than just another holiday destination, Vegas is up there with the best of them. Although visitors with all budgets are welcome, it of course goes without saying that the deeper your pockets are, the more fun you’re likely to have. That may not be the case for all holiday destinations, but it certainly rings true in Vegas.
Not only is it great for all the family with its large supply of family-friendly hotels with pools the kids will enjoy, but it’s a hot favourite with couples. There are plenty of romantic spots that could easily be mistaken for somewhere in Paris – and that’s not just in the Paris Hotel, one of the many large resort casinos on the famous Las Vegas Strip.
Getting married is also on the cards here, with no shortage of wedding chapels offering ‘quickie’ marriage ceremonies. Vegas is the second-most popular city in the world to get married in with around 114,000 weddings a year. One of the reported ‘on a whim’ weddings is the tale of Nick Bond, 30, from Surrey, who met 23-year-old American broadcast journalist Alex Gabrielson and tied the knot 17 hours later at the Special Memory Wedding Chapel. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would meet my future wife in Vegas. A few people have said we're being stupid but we are young and we're not hurting anyone.”
The Little White Wedding Chapel is a favourite among the elopers, and is even more popular now that a certain Britney Spears got married there. Getting a marriage licence quickly isn’t just the outcome of ten too many drinks in a scene reminiscent of The Hangover – many couples dream about their Vegas weddings for quite some time. Certain forum users are planning Vegas nuptials, such as Graeme Morl, 31, from Newcastle, who aims to join the likes of other Punter’s Lounge users such as ‘ksportz’. Every Vegas wedding story will be unique, with ‘ksportz’ telling of his ceremony taking place in a hot-air balloon. Couples can live out their wildest fantasies and be married by white-flared Elvis-impersonating vicars while walking down the aisle to one of the King’s songs if they please – and in Vegas, anything goes. Gondola rides in a big, white wedding dress are considered the norm, as are ‘on the house’ post-wedding fast food meals for the newlyweds.
But, despite all the fun that can be had, there’s a reason Las Vegas is called Sin City. In among the bright lights and glamour is a darker side, which most visitors are initially aware of, but don’t necessarily see how it might impact upon them – until it’s too late. The saying “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” couldn’t be more true, possibly because no one remembers quite what they got up to, or perhaps more accurately, don’t want to. Some Vegas visitors may have gone for some not-so-cheap laughs, but come back wishing they never went at all. Getting drunk in Vegas is not something to be taken lightly. You may leave your troubles behind when you go, but fresh ones could follow you on your return home.
We tried to lift the lid on what actually happens in Vegas, and were met with a very diverse range of responses. From getting banned and abused in internet forums, and wishing we’d never asked for quite ‘that much detail’, we have enough Vegas tales to last us a lifetime – or at least until our next trip so we can create more memories.
Although people hear endless stories and are aware of what goes on, the rush and excitement of it all – not to mention the alcohol – can make some people forget, and often they can be left feeling vulnerable or just plain embarrassed. Lucas Fernandez, 33, from Putney told us: “One night I was talking to this girl at the casino for quite some time and I thought she was really into me. It turns out she was a hooker and just wanted my money. It took me a pretty long time to figure it out though, and yes I still hear about it from my mates.” Meanwhile an anonymous poster on drunkinvegas.com noted that he “was really drunk and made bad life decisions” when a trip to Vegas to celebrate his engagement with his fiancée turned sour. “I confessed about getting with her sister over a year ago. She got mad and I left to go and ‘gamble’. I went to a strip club and somehow brought a stripper back to the room and told my fiancée to ‘eff off’. Not quite sure what happened, he merely relied on the information relayed to him by his ex-fiancée. “She also said the stripper kept the ring; I’m not sure what to believe but I never got the ring back, and I never got married.”
Vegas is rife with temptation and vices, especially in the form of prostitutes or high-class escorts; no longer a taboo, more and more people are admitting to their experiences with prostitutes, most of which don’t have a ‘happy ending’. We encountered a vast amount of stories of a similar nature. This particular one, also from drunkinvegas.com, paints the picture of the down-side to the plethora of call girls. Another poster writes: “I ended up at some cheesy bar in the downtown area and met some foreign girl. She was pretty cute, had great tits and a nice ass. We hit it off and she introduced me to her friend – right then it should have clicked that something was up. I don't know what happened after that but I woke up by myself the next morning and my wallet was gone… and I think they slapped the s**t out of me because my face was pretty sore.” There are countless stories of misfortunes with prostitutes who leave with a lot more than the initially agreed price. However, the end of this particular tale shows that some prostitutes’ idea of the word ‘valuables’ can be different from others. “To add a little icing on the cake, they stole the hotel shampoo and soap from my room and my tube of toothpaste. Who steals that kind of stuff?”
With all the unfortunate events that happen in Vegas, sometimes it can be difficult to keep sight of why people love going. But then you only have to listen to tales about some of the best times ever, which more often than not involve casinos and lots of free drinks. Chris Joy, 27, from Ohio told us of a moment when he and his friends had lost the majority of their money and “weren’t exactly thinking straight” when they decided to pool their money together to try and double up. “So we agreed to each put $200 down on black on the roulette table – we were all terrified and couldn't even watch the spin. To our luck, we won and agreed to go out to an expensive restaurant for dinner and then a strip club the next night.”
Despite all the memorable moments, a certain amount of folklore exists regarding what goes on in casinos behind the scenes, which could be held responsible for the incessant urge to gamble the night away and drink into the early hours. There are urban myths that the big casinos, particularly in Vegas and Atlantic City, pump oxygen into the rooms when it’s getting late to keep their customers awake. This has neither been confirmed nor denied and is actually against the law. But a more lawful method of keeping customers on the gambling floor and not asleep in their rooms is the free booze, which never seems to stop flowing. Unlike clubs where you can practically die of thirst waiting to get served, free drinks are presented to customers left, right, and centre in a bid to keep them there and make them lose their inhibitions and become reckless with money.
Bobby Finstock, founder of pointlessbanter.net also notes how alcohol can impair your gambling judgment. “At one point in the evening I could barely speak, but blackjack sounded like a good idea. When I am drunk and playing blackjack I am loud and annoying. But the hotel kept feeding me drinks because I was hammered and gambling. Everyone at the table pretty much wanted me to walk away to salvage some dignity.” He goes on to say that he “did return there and won back some of what I lost… I will get all of the money I spent back before I die – bastards.”
Losing your inhibitions at the casinos can of course be a good thing for gamblers, as a higher bet could lead to a bigger victory, which was the case for Fernandez, whose misfortunes with the strippers could be overlooked due to his big win. “Me and my mates made a huge bet on roulette that was way beyond our limits to try and double up. We said if we win, we will take the profit and go to one of the most expensive restaurants on the Strip. And we won! Beginner’s luck I guess.”
There will always be stories where people don’t understand how they got into certain situations. We’ve read our fair share of ‘you had to be there’ anecdotes, but some were still hilarious without us even being present. William Hughes, 24, from Newtown, Powys in Wales said: “One drunken night, me and a friend were sat at a water fountain splashing each other, I lost my balance and fell in. Problem was that I\'d had so much to drink without using a toilet that I wet myself as I went in.”
Malcolm Kerr, 25, from Falkirk, who holidayed in Vegas in 2009, told us of a tale where he and 15 friends had a predominantly superhero-themed fancy dress evening, and the night turned sour for ‘Batman’ in particular, who went overboard with the cocktails. After a long night, “Batman managed to escape and tried to head back to the Strip to fight some more crime, but sadly only made it as far as the casino floor where he decided to fall over again. Security happily stuck him back in the 'Batmobile' (a wheelchair) and took him home. The next morning, the guy in the room next door asks if we had any strangers at the door during the night. Just as he says that, Batman, still sporting pants and a cape, walks across the corridor from one room into the next…”
Sometimes however, it’s those who live and work in Vegas who have the best stories to tell. Since they aren’t blinded by alcohol, they have the most accurate recollections of what actually happens in the city of sin. A particularly interesting story on blog.vegas.com about what goes on in the back seats of limousines caught our eye and had some eerie tales of what goes down. One anonymous driver said, “a passenger was in town for what he referred to as a ‘reunion with a woman’. He put the privacy partition up and asked me to drive around town for a couple of hours. In those situations, you just don’t ask questions.” You must also begin to wonder what else goes on in this city when you consider that the items that are most often left behind in hired cars and taxis include lingerie, canes and even snakes!
Yes, it’s a crazy old place, Las Vegas – the ideal setting for a wonderfully debauched holiday of a lifetime. Just be careful you don’t take things that little step too far, or the regrets might last you a lifetime.