las vegas tourist scams

The Top Las Vegas Tourist Scams and How to Avoid Them

Ah, Vegas! The lights, sounds and vibrant casinos make it a city everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. But it didn’t get its nickname as the city of sin for no reason. 

Not only should you come to the city ready to adjust your moral compass accordingly, you should also be aware of those that make their living off of scamming others. 

Falling prey to a scam can ruin your vacation, but if you know what to look for, you can stay protected. Read on to find out about common Las Vegas scams and how to avoid them. 

Beware of Hookers

Even though prostitution is not legal in Vegas, it is still a popular way for many people to make a living. It is not uncommon to be approached by a sex worker. If you agree to their services and invite them up to your hotel room, they may ask you to take a shower. While showering, they will rob your room of your valuables and take off. 

In some cases, prostitutes may even drug johns and take their money and belongings while they are unconscious. 

To keep this from happening, it’s advisable to stay away from prostitutes in general. If you want to partake in the experience, you are better off in a state where prostitution is legal. A reputable company will be accountable for the actions of their workers. 

Three Card Monty

The gambling spirit is alive and well in Vegas. Many scammers take it to the streets by offering games of three card monty on the sidewalk. There are variations on the game, but the idea is similar.

Players will be asked to choose a card. The scammer will then shuffle it between a group of three cards asking the player to keep an eye on their card. If they are able to find their card after the shuffle is completed, they will double their money. If not, their money will be lost.

However, many of these scammers are skilled in the slight of hand and will actually remove your card before the game is played leaving you no chance of winning. You are best off avoiding the game altogether. 

Triple Zero Roulette/6:5 Blackjack

When gambling at a casino, beware, many establishments have ways of watering down the odds, especially in games of roulette and blackjack. 

To keep the odds in your favor, it is best to play roulette at a double zero wheel or a single zero variant (which can be found at Cromwell or Plaza). 

If you are playing blackjack, find a table that plays a traditional 3:2. That could mean playing higher stakes at the Strip or walking off the Strip to establishments like Bally’s and Ellis Island. 

CNF Fees

While many tourists grumble about resort fees, hotels are generally upfront about them so there is little we can do to avoid them. CNF fees are a different matter. 

Also called Concession and Franchise fees, many restaurants tack these on to their patrons’ bills. It amounts to 4.7% of the bill and there is absolutely nothing that justifies the additional charge. Though it is included on the menu, it is often hidden in small print making it very difficult to spot. 

Vegas hotspots known for sneaking in CNF fees include Beer Park, Hexx, Cabo Wabo and Rhumbar so you might want to avoid eating at these establishments. If you do find an unexpected additional charge, you can dispute it with management to get it removed from your bill.

Time Share Pitches

It is not uncommon for Vegas tourists to get approached by real estate agents asking them if they would be interested in a time share. They will try to lure you in by offering you free and discounted admission to shows, buffets, hotels and more. 

These offers are very tempting, and the agents will make good on their promises. However, once they start making their pitch, they will be very pushy, and it will be difficult for you to turn down their offer. What’s more, time shares are not the best investment to make. 

It is a good general practice to decline time share meetings. If you do decide to listen to these pitches, be prepared to buy or to turn them down. 

Photographers at the ‘Welcome to Vegas Sign’

Vegas is a great place for photo opps and you will not want to leave the city without taking a picture by the “Welcome to Vegas” sign. Once there, you will see a lot of photographers hanging out waiting to snap your picture. 

They may act like they are employed in some sort of official capacity, but the truth is, they are just out to take your money. They will use your phone to take your picture and they will insist on being tipped. 

If you are visiting the Vegas sign, you are better off asking another tourist to take a picture of your group. 


Vegas is known for its big spenders and heavy drinking. Tourists under the influence can be easily caught off guard making themselves easy targets for pickpockets. 

Items like money, wallets, Ticket In Ticket Out vouchers and cell phones are especially valuable for thieves. Often times, they will work in pairs so one will approach you to distract you while the other steals your belongings. 

Make sure you are not a target for thieves by keeping your items secure. If you have large quantities of cash, keep most of it in a hotel room safe. 

Street Performers

Popular tourist destinations like Fremont St. and the Las Vegas Strip are full of street performers and people dressed up as characters. These people will approach you and perform for you or ask you if you would like a picture with them. Once you agree, they will insist on a tip and they can be very pushy about getting one. 

To keep yourself from getting stuck in this situation, you are best off avoiding them completely. You may even find it worth it to give them a few bucks but, remember, you are not obligated to give them significant amounts of money. $1-$5 will do just fine. 

CD Hawkers

While walking on the streets of Vegas, you may also be approached by musicians trying to get you to listen to their CDs. They may hand you the CD, but once you accept, they will ask you for cash. 

You are best off ignoring anyone who puts a CD or any other kind of trinket in your hand. If you end up being asked for payment for an unwanted item, give it back. 

Las Vegas is a crazy city and it is the illicit atmosphere that makes it so exciting. While you might want to let your hair down, don’t let your guard down; especially when it comes to scammers. Take these tips into consideration the next time you visit the city of sin.