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Inside Vegas - Steve Miller

Steve Miller is a former Las Vegas City Councilman. In 1991, the readers of the Las Vegas Review Journal voted him the "Most Effective Public Official" in Southern Nevada. Visit his website at:

Driving away tourists
A request to INSIDE VEGAS readers

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.

Or 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 most.

Businesses that refuse to pay the extortion demands report they have been slandered or boycotted by some transportation drivers.

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 entrance.

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 week.

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 take action.

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 @ and describe your experience.

Thank you,

Steve Miller, a former Clark County Regional Transportation Commissioner, believes that some things that happen in Vegas, should not stay in Vegas.

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