Las Vegas has always had a bit of a reputation as an unsafe city. I have no doubt this is due to the way in which many of the early casinos were created. You only have to walk around Las Vegas for a short while before you notice ads for the Mob Museum, which is dedicated to Las Vegas’s criminal past. Thankfully, mobsters aren’t a problem in Vegas these days.
Of course, that doesn’t stop people from thinking that Las Vegas is a dangerous city. So, is Las Vegas safe to visit? Are you running the risk of being a victim of crime here? What can you do to lower the risk of being a victim in Sin City? I’ll cover everything you need to know in the article below.
Although, before I go any further, I’d like to point out that Las Vegas is safe to visit for the average person. If you are a tourist in the city and take basic precautions, then being in Las Vegas is no more dangerous than being in any other city in the US. In fact, it may even be considerably safer in some parts of the city (i.e., The Strip).
Is Las Vegas Safe?
Las Vegas is a city where people come to gamble a ton of cash. Millions and millions of dollars exchange hands every single day at the casinos on and around the Strip. As you can probably imagine, crime tends not to be too far away when large sums of money are involved.
I’m not going to dress things up for you here. Outside of the tourist areas, there are parts of Las Vegas that aren’t particularly safe. Like most cities in the United States, there are areas of Vegas that you will probably want to avoid. However, if you stick around the main casinos, particularly around The Strip, then you should be fine. Let me explain.
How Dangerous is Las Vegas?
While I love Las Vegas and think everyone should visit at least once in their lives, I can’t in good conscience tell you that it’s 100% safe without mentioning the bad parts of the city.
Statistics indicate that Las Vegas is more dangerous than other cities in Nevada. Of course, this isn’t saying much as Las Vegas is by far the largest city in Nevada. Nationally speaking the crime rate in Las Vegas is 59% higher than the average U.S. city (source).
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be the victim of a crime, though (we will talk about that shortly), but it’s an indication that crime does happen here.
Interestingly, however, Las Vegas actually has a lower crime rate than many similar-sized cities located nearby including (source):
- Los Angeles, CA
- Phoenix, AZ
- Fresno, CA
What you have to remember is that Las Vegas is a sizable city. When most people think of Vegas, they think of the glitzy glamor around The Strip and maybe a couple of the other entertainment districts. But Las Vegas Valley covers a lot of ground and there are both good and bad areas found throughout the city.
In addition, like many large cities, Las Vegas has a growing homeless population, and a disproportionate amount of crime happens within the homeless community, which tends to skew the average crime statistic upwards.
You should couple this with the fact that gambling is legal in Las Vegas (obviously), and many gamblers tend to be walking around with stacks of cash in their pocket, particularly foreign gamblers who don’t really have a way to get cash into a bank account while they are in the city. This means that these people will be potential victims of a crime if they aren’t careful.
Las Vegas is Safe For The Average Visitor
Now that is out of the way; I’m eager to point out that Las Vegas isn’t generally unsafe for the average visitor.
If you are staying in or around Las Vegas’s main tourist areas, and you put just a slight amount of effort into taking basic precautions, then you should be plenty safe. You wouldn’t believe the amount of money that Las Vegas spends on ensuring that the tourists are kept safe.
After all, it is tourists that are generating cash for the city. If Las Vegas got a reputation for being unsafe, the casinos would start to crumble pretty quickly.
Of course, as you head further away from The Strip, the risk gets higher. There isn’t as much security hanging around, and, as I said, there are some not-so-nice areas in and around the city.
I don’t know if you have ever seen the television show, but there was a popular series called ‘Pawn Stars.’ It is set in a pawn shop in Las Vegas (you can learn all about visiting the Pawn Stars shop here). The show gives the impression that it is in one of the glitzier parts of Las Vegas, but it isn’t.
It is located in one of the more rundown parts of the city (one of the best places to operate a pawn shop), and the stars on the show have regularly talked about the crime that happens in the area. It tends to be pretty high, although it has fallen somewhat in the last few years.
Basically, the average person will not feel unsafe when visiting Las Vegas. Not unless they go looking for trouble, directly or indirectly. If you take proper precautions while in the city, the chances of you being a victim of crime are pretty much close to zero.
If you are spending almost your entire time on The Strip, the possibility of being a victim of crime will likely never enter your mind. As soon as you start taking risks? Well, just like every other city in the country, you are running the risk of being a crime victim. Take the same precautions that you would take at home, and you should be safe while in Vegas.
Top Tips For Staying Safe in Las Vegas
So far, I’ve mentioned how important it is to take precautions while you are in the city. If you follow a couple of basic rules, then your chance of being a victim of crime will be low. In fact, when you do hear of a tourist being a victim of a crime while in the city, it tends to be because they didn’t follow basic precautions or were doing something stupid. Not always, but most of the time.
Most of these tips should be common sense. If you live in a big city already, you probably already have a solid idea of how you should act while you are in Las Vegas to stay safe.
Stick to The Tourist Areas in Vegas
I have mentioned this already, but make sure that you stick to the tourist areas. The security and police presence in these areas tends to be very high, and this results in crime being quite low.
I suggest that you try and stick to the more crowded areas. Although, bear in mind that pickpockets do operate in the tourist areas of Las Vegas, and they tend to frequent the more crowded areas outside of casinos, so make sure that you keep an eye on your possessions while you are out and about.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you have to be around the casinos all of the time in order to be safe. While gambling is the main attraction in Las Vegas, it is not the only thing to do here. There is plenty of other entertainment.
There are a lot of attractions, however, that are away from the main tourist areas as property tends to be a bit cheaper. If you are going to one of these places, then try to go during the day. Crime rates are always going to be lower when the sun is up.
If you’re looking for some off-Strip fun, check out: 27 Exciting Things to Do in Las Vegas (Off The Strip)
Don’t Walk Around Las Vegas With Large Sums of Cash
In Las Vegas, cash is king. Still, it’s not recommended to fill your pockets with cash while exploring the city.
While American tourists have ways to get their winnings in and out of their bank accounts pretty easily, things are a little bit more difficult for foreign tourists. A lot of the time, they visit with huge stacks of cash.
Only ever carry the amount of cash that you need. No more. The more cash you have on you, the more you could potentially lose. You wouldn’t believe the number of tourists in Vegas that have lost everything just because they were not careful with their cash…and I don’t mean through gambling!
Almost every hotel room in Las Vegas will have a safe. It is vital that you use it. Store all of your excess cash there. Stick your valuables in there too.
Visit Reputable Vegas Casinos
This is less of a problem nowadays. However, in the early days of Vegas, a lot of unlicensed casinos were located in the area. This isn’t good. Casinos need to be licensed for a reason. It shows that they are regulated and a safe place to gamble.
If you see a sign leading you to a dark and dingy area, then you should probably avoid it. I can assure you that no good casino is going to be stuck in a back alley somewhere.
While I’m all for promoting small businesses, I’d suggest that you try and stick to the bigger casinos. They invest a lot of money to ensure that their patrons are safe.
Gamble Discreetly in Las Vegas
Big wins are fantastic. I hope that you get many of them! However, I do suggest that you try to avoid the urge of screaming and cheering at a table or slot machine when you hit it big.
Some people walk around casinos looking for those that win big. If you are screaming about a massive win, you are essentially screaming, “Hey, I now have a ton of cash on me!”. This is instantly going to increase the risk of you being a victim of a crime. Not by much, mind you, but you do become more of a target.
Use Licensed Taxi Cabs or Drive Yourself Around in Las Vegas
If you are going to be traveling around Vegas, then make sure that you use a licensed taxi cab. Better yet, drive yourself around. It is so much safer.
While I understand the merit of traveling on public transport, do bear in mind that it will increase the risk of being a victim of a crime. Pickpockets tend to frequent public transport, and since public transportation in Las Vegas can get pretty busy, you may not even notice that somebody has swiped your wallet out of your pocket until much later.
So use an official taxi or an Uber. Also, if you’re planning to use Uber while you’re here, make sure before you jump in the car that it is actually the car (check the license plate and the type of auto on the Uber app) before you jump in.
Stay Aware of Your Surroundings in Vegas
Whenever you are in Vegas, make sure that you are vigilant. Pay attention to what is going on around you. Make sure that you hold your bag close to you. Stick wallets and purses in the inside pocket of your jacket. Do everything possible you can to discourage a would-be criminal.
Oh, and those free alcoholic beverages that casinos love to give out? Very fun, but don’t go too far overboard. Casinos give them out because it is much more likely to keep you on the casino floor gambling. However, drink too much alcohol, and you become less alert. It is no secret that you are much more likely to be a victim of a crime if you have consumed a little bit too much alcohol.
Avoid Wearing Flashy Jewelry
Finally, steer clear of wearing flashy jewelry, expensive or not. Walk around with a lot of flashy bling, and you are pretty much advertising yourself as a potential crime victim. Some people would love to get their hands on your jewelry, watches, etc.
There seem to regularly be articles in the local news about guys who’ve had their expensive watches stolen by a woman they met in a Vegas nightspot. It only makes sense that the women latched onto these guys because of their flashy watches.
If you head to any of the major casinos, you will struggle to be able to spot the high rollers. This is because they never advertise that they are rich. They don’t wear fancy jewelry. They tend to walk around in casual clothing. Do the same. The flashier you are, the more risk you are at.
Is Las Vegas Safe – Final Word
While Las Vegas certainly isn’t the safest city in the United States, it is still considered safe overall, especially for tourists. You will have to take a few precautions if you are walking around with bundles of cash, and you may want to stick to the main tourist areas in the city, particularly at night.
However, I’m fairly confident in saying that if you head to Las Vegas, your chances of being a victim of crime will be close to zero. The city is safe to visit. You will be fine.