A request to INSIDE VEGAS
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
May 18, 2009
I would like to hear from anyone who while
visiting Las Vegas ever experienced having a hotel door man, valet, or
casino boss try to convince you to take a free limo ride to a certain place
of business which they recommend.
if you or someone you know have ever experienced a Las Vegas taxi ride
that involved your asking the driver to take you to a specific business
location followed by the driver attempting to convince you that the business
you requested was either; "Out of business," "Dirty," "The food is
lousy," a "Gay bar," had a "Bad reputation," "Burned down," was a "Rip
off," "Dangerous," etc., then took you to a competitive type business of
his or her choice, and that business proceeded to overcharge you, or not
provide the services you desired, I'd like to hear from you.
The businesses that are involved in the
above described scams mainly consist of gentleman's clubs, wedding chapels,
tuxedo and gown rental businesses, pawn shops, restaurants, flower shops,
massage parlors, Nye County brothels, and LV swinger's clubs.
This scam is affecting hundreds of visitors
to our city on a daily basis. Certain businesses encourage the practice
by paying transportation drivers up to $100 per passenger delivered to
their door, and these bribes have inspired certain drivers to say or do
almost anything to make sure their fares go to where drivers are paid the
Businesses that refuse to pay the extortion
demands report they have been slandered or boycotted by some transportation
The practice usually takes place during
the late evening or early morning hours. The practice has reportedly posed
a danger to some tourists who have disagreed with driver's demands.
In more than one instance, a tourist reported
that he or she was ordered out of a taxi in a bad neighborhood for insisting
the driver go to the requested location only.
Cab drivers have reportedly pulled alongside
men walking in tourist frequented areas and inquired if they were going
to a gentleman's club? If the men said they were, the driver would offer
them a free ride to a club of his choice.
In another report, three men were solicited
less than a block from the gentleman's club they intended to visit and
offered a free ride to that club, a club that pays $100 per passenger
delivered. Had they refused the free ride, the club would have been spared
having to pay the driver's extortion demand of $100 per passenger.
In order to entice the three men into his
cab, the driver reportedly offered free drink coupons if they accepted
his thirty second long free ride. Gentlemen's clubs often distribute complimentary
drink coupons to cab drivers to give to passengers, or to use on their
night off. Following the one-half block long ride, the driver collected
$300 from the club for his efforts, and his passengers were high pressured
into buying expensive Champaign for theirs.
Last summer, a business executive flew
from Los Angeles to Las Vegas for a meeting with a local strip club owner.
At McCarran Airport, the executive boarded a taxi and gave the driver the
address he desired to go to. After driving off airport property, the driver
reportedly told the passenger that his destination had burned down, and
he suggested another club on the other side of town. The passenger insisted
on going to his original destination.
An argument ensued and the executive was
rudely asked to get out of the cab in the middle of a sleazy neighborhood
near the airport. There, he waited for over twenty minutes in over 100
degree heat for another cab to pick him up. He made it to his meeting but
almost suffered a heat stroke in the process.
Targeted businesses must overcharge customers
in order to pay the extortion. Not only does this practice discourage tourism,
it's a disincentive to new business development in our city.
Honest transportation drivers complain
that the unscrupulous actions of some fellow drivers are damaging their
reputations as ambassadors to our city, hurting local off-Strip businesses,
and discouraging visitors from riding in LV taxis.
But taxi drivers are not the only culprits!
For the past several years a new racket
has proliferated up and down the Strip wherein persons working the front
entrances of major hotels approach likely married couples, or groups of
males waiting for transportation, and solicit for businesses that indirectly
pay them kick backs.
In many instances, casino bosses reportedly
get a cut from certain local businesses and therefore condone the practice
on their hotel's property. Often times, hotel senior management is unaware
this is happening, and most would object if they knew their guests are
being hustled by hotel employees, or others allowed to loiter at the front
The couples are usually asked if they wish
to go to a restaurant? Groups of males are usually asked if they want to
go to an adult business?
If the tourists say yes, the door man,
valet, or limo representative take them out of the line and escort them
to a waiting limousine. They are then taken to places of business that
are known for gouging customers.
For each customer delivered, the driver
is paid up to $100 which he or she is required to split with the door man,
valet, or casino boss who solicited the tourists.
Local businesses are boycotted that do
not agree to pay the extortion demands of unscrupulous transportation providers.
The unreported cash generated through this
practice is denying much needed tax revenue to our local and state coffers
at a time when Nevada's schools and other vital services are in dire need.
One transportation company owner interviewed
for this story said it's not his problem. Some suspect that as long as
his drivers can supplement their income by gouging tourists, he and several
of his competitors ignore the problem in order to not have to pay their
drivers a living wage or benefits.
A strip club owner who asked not to be
named told INSIDE VEGAS he paid out over $113,000 in cash bribes to limo
and taxi drivers during last Easter
He also described the newest scam when
drivers bring friends posing as passengers to his club. He described how
the pseudo passengers are dropped off in front and pay the admission charge
while the driver collects his bribe in the back parking lot. The passengers
soon leave without buying drinks, return to the same vehicle, and are driven
to another nearby club to repeat the process.
With four purported passengers and a $400
cash payoff each time they're dropped off at a targeted business, unscrupulous
limo and taxi drivers and their co-conspirators can make thousands in just
a few hours. In the end, the affected businesses must make up for the loss
by overcharging customers.
While this is going on, local citizens
report waiting hours for a cab to the airport to catch a red eye. Some
have reported calling two and three times with no response while hundreds
of idling cabs with their radios turned off can be found waiting in queues
next to strip clubs throughout the early morning hours. The Nevada
Taxicab Authority has been made aware of the problem, but refuses to
The IRS has been fully informed of the
millions in unreported cash that's changing hands on a monthly basis, but
it's not known whether they plan to take action.
There are laws on the books of the City
of Las Vegas, Clark County, and State of Nevada
that clearly prohibit this practice, but government authorities are refusing
to enforce these laws, or are being paid to look the other way.
At this time when Las Vegas is suffering
an economic turn down, it's imperative that we end this practice before
more of our town's tourists are literally driven away.
If you have ever been solicited in the
above manner or know someone who was while visiting Las Vegas, please contact
me @ SteveMiller4LV@aol.com
and describe your experience.
Steve Miller, a former Clark County Regional
Transportation Commissioner, believes that some things that happen in Vegas,
should not stay in Vegas.