The best resources about gambling in Las Vegas are those which are unbiased. Finding good archives of articles about Las Vegas can be difficult, because the search engines are clogged with sites about strategy, advertisements for certain casinos, and web pages about the dangers of problem gambling. All of these sources of information serve a purpose. However, people wanting to read concrete facts about Las Vegas need informational content produced by people who want to study, not change opinions. I’ve taken the time to provide that below. First, I want to mention a few general things about gambling in casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. And please peruse of Las Vegas Strip history page if you haven’t already.
Gaming Law in Vegas and Beyond
Gaming laws in Las Vegas are among the most liberal in the country. Las Vegas is one of the few places Americans can make legal sports wagers. Las Vegas is also one of the few places you’ll be able to engage in off-track betting on horse racing. Most forms of gambling are legal, and the laws force casinos (live or online) to adhere to strict gaming regulations. For instance, casinos cannot change the odds on a slot machine until you finish playing. Additionally, they cannot do it 4 minutes before you start playing, and 4 minutes after you finish.
Risks and Dangers of Casino Gambling
Study casino gambling and you’ll find plenty of electronic literature about the risks and dangers of gambling. Those risks exist in Las Vegas, as much as anywhere else. Players should understand concepts such as bankroll and money management tips. These are crucial to know when to walk away. Gamblers need a general understanding of the odds against them in most games. Poker players should know how to spot when they’ve gone on tilt, or when they’re outclassed as the Texas hold’em table. As the old saying goes, if you can’t spot the fish at the poker table, you’re it.
A lot of the problems occur when people stop using their common sense. Las Vegas casinos offer a lot of free drinks. Those free drinks are an investment–not charity. If you’re tipsy, you’re likely to be freer with your money. That’s why drinking tea may be a better idea, but this consciousness heightening drink is not served in all places. With flashing lights and fancy decor, people tend to play looser than they would on their computer. Keep that in mind. Remember, all the bright lights and fancy resorts were paid on the back of the gamblers. The house edge makes all that grandeur affordable.
Where are the Fish?
For a full review of all blackjack limits, please review our popular page dedicated to this subject. If you play at $1/$2 limits, give a try to the Mirage or Caesars Palace. If you prefer the $4/$8 limits, which I suggest, go to the MGM Grand or Bellagio. The Wynn and the Venetian are also good places for these games.
The good news is you can find fish at any casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Stick to the Vegas Strip and you should do well. Locals often play at Off the Strip or downtown casinos, and these people are the veterans of the poker wars. Finding the right table in the casino is the trick. All sorts of easy targets can be found in Las Vegas. Over 35 million unique gamblers come to Las Vegas each year. Many of these are new players who expect to learn lessons the hard way. Others are people who’ve watched the game on television and maybe read a book or two, but have no practical experience in a live setting. These are the gamblers you hope to find. When you start playing, ask how these people came to the game. If they tell you they’re staying at the hotel in which they are currently playing, take that as a strong sign that they are poker tourists. If they talk about watching the game on TV, that’s another good sign.
If you have a little money, you’ll find whales who fit the same criteria. They come to town hoping to push people around with big stacks of chips, knowing they can afford to lose. Learn their tendencies and pick your spots, because you can make a small fortune off these players. You’ll also find a lot of online players go to Las Vegas to try out a face-to-face game. These players might know the game well, or they might be inferior. Either way, they’ll have to get used to a transition to live play. It’s one thing to know the math and another thing to read players and keep them from reading you.
Tip. Before scanning our vast collection of links below, you are encouraged to read this comprehensive guide to booking a Vegas trip, written by an ex-local to boot !
Good Resources to Study Gambling
Below is the big list of archives and resources, if you want to learn more about gambling in Las Vegas. A number of fine scholarly, governmental, and non-profit organizations offer information on gambling. Everything you read does not have to be from pro-gaming and anti-gambling groups. While I suggest you read arguments from both sides of the question, I also suggest you do your own research and double-check ever factoids put out by either side.
UNLV Center for Gaming Research
The UNLV Center for Gaming Research (http://gaming.unlv.edu/) is the best resource provided by an American postsecondary institution. This stands to reason, given the university’s location in Las Vegas. Players can find a number of studies and published news notes every month. A large archive going back nearly three decades provides a massive resource.
What sets UNLV’s researchers apart from so many is a lack of bias. While money and energy is put into research at fine institutions such as UCLA, so many of these studies focus on problem gambling, instead of the wider issues facing gamblers. While it’s noble to study about gambling addiction, that doesn’t help the healthy gamblers who want to know more about the mathematics and psychology of casino gambling. The Center of Gaming Research provides that perspective, whether it’s the economics of Las Vegas gaming, trends in the industry, or responsible gambling. On the link I provided, look in the top left hand corner of the page for information on reports, papers, and podcasts on these subjects and more. If you were in fact looking for resources about problem gaming, please visit our useful collection of links.
Downtown Las Vegas Visitors Guide
The Downtown Las Vegas Visitors Website guide (http://downtown.vegas/play/) is a website which provides a detailed listing of the 11 casinos found downtown at the moment. Learn about the Fremont Hotel, Golden Gate, Binion’s Gambling Hall, El Cortez, Four Queens, La Bayou, Mermaid’s, and all the rest of the local gaming halls.
The guide also provides full information on bars, lounges, and nightclubs in the area. Those who want more than just gambling and clubbing can learn about the museums and attractions in the city. Shopping areas, restaurants by type, and wedding chapels are also included. Each venue is given an address, phone number, and website information. Detailed information on the types of transportation available is found in the back of the pdf.
LCVCA Stats and Facts
Anyone wanting to check the facts on Las Vegas should take a look at this Las Vegas stats and facts page (http://www.lvcva.com/stats-and-facts/additional-sources/) from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. This provides the information to do additional research through the LV Global Economic Alliances, the UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research, the Clark County Comprehensive Planning authority, the Gaming Control Board, and the LVCVA’s own Research Department. Here’s one stat you might not know: 47% of the workforce in Las Vegas is employed in the tourism industry.
Review Journal Casinos Information
The Review Journal is a Las Vegas area publication which covers all aspects of new and society in the area. The Review Journal has its own casinos page (http://www.reviewjournal.com/business/casinos-gaming), which covers news and gaming information for Nevada, the United States, and the whole world. This is a way to see what the locals are saying about the part of Las Vegas you’re interested in–and the industry as a whole.
William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration
The website for UNLV’s Harrah College of Hotel Administration (http://www.unlv.edu/hotel) also offers research, news, and other tools to learn more about gaming in Las Vegas. This program provides many of the professionals who go on to staff the Las Vegas Strip casinos. While the focus isn’t solely on gambling, it provides additional information on the subject.
UNR College of Business
The UNR College of Business (http://www.unr.edu/business) has a degree program in gaming (minor). When you look at the reports, you’ll often see UNLV and UNR co-sponsor research or events. Some of the information is going to be redundant, but these are two different schools with two different academic staffs, so some of the information will be unique.
National Indian Gaming Association
The National Indian Gaming Association (http://www.indiangaming.org/) offers information on the many tribes and nations across the 50 U.S. states. Readers can see a list of issues facing the NIGA and upcoming legislative summits. Also provided is a form to contact the U.S. Congress and let its members know what you think about gaming law.
Sports Gambling Facts and Statistics
The NC Gambling offers a sports gambling facts and statistics pdf (http://www.ncpgambling.org/files/public/Sports_Gambling_Facts.pdf). These are commonly stated factoids about the gaming industry. If you want to know how many people gambling on sporting events each year, it’s a good resource. If you want a quick list with risk factors for gambling problems, it’s also got a concise set of factors. This was produced by the National Council on Problem Gambling, which takes the negative side of the question on most gaming issues. If anything, you might want to research further to know what the anti-gambling people are saying, and whether they’re correct.
US National Library of Medicine
The US National Library of Medicine (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1495100/) provides a lot of statistical information on problem gambling over the years and across the USA. If you want to research the facts, this is the place to go. As close as you can get on such an emotionally charged subject, it’s a no-spin zone.
IRS Gambling Income and Losses
As you might have guessed, the Internal Revenue Service (http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc419.html) is interested when gamblers win at the casino. This page provides legal information on reporting your winnings, along with a handy form for doing so.
History of Gambling in the United States
The official State Library of California (http://www.library.ca.gov/crb/97/03/Chapt2.html) offers this long retelling of the history of gambling in the United States. Learn about the first wave from the 1600’s until the mid-1800’s. Read about the lottery scandals which led to the abolition of gambling in most states. Study the second era of gaming, which was touched off by the California Gold Rush in 1849 and 1850. This era continued throughout the American frontier and Old West eras and only came to an end with the reform era of the early 1900’s. Learn what caused Nevada to legalize gambling in 1931 and why the American mafia was so instrumental in building Las Vegas. This online document provides a nice overview of the pre-contemporary era of gambling in America.
New ! : Please read our comprehensive review of the history of gaming in the United States.
More Gambling Resources
The US Gov website (http://search.usa.gov/search?affiliate=usagov&query=gambling) page on gambling provides links to the gaming departments of the 50 U.S. states and various overseas territories. There you can find state-by-state information on the local and state laws. The page also links to various government agencies who want to weigh in on problem gambling.