Las Vegas, NV

Things you *think* are legal in Las Vegas, but are they?

Bria Snyder

With a nickname like Sin City comes a lot of rumor, speculation, and general assumption of what is allowed within Las Vegas. Read along as we debunk most of these and maybe surprise you with a few that are actually legal here.


This topic is probably my favorite one to talk to visitors about. I don't think there's a single tourist I've spoken to that didn't think prostitution is legal in Las Vegas. Well, I'm sorry to disappoint you but it's not. So those card snappers up and down The Las Vegas Strip are pretty deceving, huh? (Card Snapper is a term locals use to describe the men and women who line the Las Vegas Strip walking areas snapping and handing out cards with barely covered women on them which offer "free women direct to you".) Prostitution in some form is actually illegal throughout the entire state of Nevada. Now there are ways to get around this in certain areas. Read the next bulletin to find out how and where.


What is a brothel? It is defined as a ranch, bordello, or place where men can visit prostitutes. And once again, despite popular belief, brothels are NOT legal in Las Vegas or Clark County Nevada. Now, while it isn't legal here, there are areas of Nevada where it is legal. While brothels have existed in Nevada since the early 19th century it wasn't until 1971 that the state had it's first legal brothel, Joe Conforte's Mustang Ranch Brothel. The N.R.S. or Nevada Revised Statute says that prostitution is legal in the form of a licensed brother. But not just any county has the ability to have licensed brothels open in their jurisdiction. What makes it legal elsewhere in the state but not in Clark County? The answer is pretty simple, population. The NRS bans licensed brothels in counties with a population exceeding 700,000. As it stands there are currently brothels in the following counties, Nye (4), Storey (1), Lyon (4), Mineral (1), White Pine (2), Lander (1), Elko (7). Brothels are banned in the following counties, Clark, Washoe, Carson City, Pershing, Douglas, Eureka and Lincoln counties


When most think of Las Vegas they think of big flashy casinos and gambling. However, in the state of Nevada, not all forms of gambling are legal. I bet most of you didn't know that, huh? Well, it's true. We do not have the lottery (this includes scratch off tickets, mega millions, powerball, etc). The lottery is against the law in Nevada, initially in place to protect from shady lottery scams it's now due to the overwhelming influence that the casinos have on the state. As of 1990 charity raffles are allowed to take place. But, like with anything there are ways that Nevada residents get their lotto fix. Head 45min down the road to Primm Valley Lotto Store which sits just on the opposite side of the state line in California and you can get yourself all the scratch offs you desire.

Prior to 2013, online poker was illegal in the state of Nevada, thankfully since then it has been legalized and is thriving. However, only WSOP .com is available and legal for online poker in the state and is heavily regulated and monitored by The Nevada Gaming Comission and Nevada Gaming Control Board.


As of July 1, 2017 recreational marijuana use was legalized in Nevada for adults over the age of 21. Before you come to Las Vegas on vacation and go searching for a cannabis store there are some things you should know. It is not legal to smoke marijuana in any setting except your own dwelling. In laments terms, you can only smoke it in your own home. This means that your hotel is off limits, The Las Vegas Strip is off limits, The Fremont Street Experience is off limits. You cannot smoke it in an uber or any vehicle for that matter. What could happen if you are caught by Las Vegas' finest? A $1000 citation.

Public Intoxication

Public Intoxication, what? Isn't that half of the point of Las Vegas? Well, yes, you're correct. But that doesn't mean that anything goes. While public drunkness isn't a crime itself, intoxication can still lead you to a 48 hour hold at the city jail. If you are believed to be a danger to yourself or others or too intoxicated to care for yourself you can be taken to the city jail for up to 48 hours on a hold. Do not get this confused with being arrested, you are not under arrest, you are being held. Keep in mind, the further from The Las Vegas Strip and The Fremont Street Experience you get, the less tolerable public intoxication is in this city.

While public intoxication is not a crime, public intoxication in a roadway is, meaning stay out of the street! For your safety and everyone elses.

Glass/Open Container

Walking the streets of Las Vegas and unincorporated Clark County is legal if it's in aluminum, paper or plastic (aluminum is prohibited on the Las Vegas Strip and Fremont Street Experience always) if it's been purchased from a venue that has a tavern license. Which means, that the ever popular ABC Store, 7Eleven, Walgreens, and CVS are not legal. These places have a license in "off sale" and not a "tavern" license meaning you must take purchases from their establishments basically home to consume. The legal aspect of it is that you cannot consume alcohol within 1000 feet of an establishment that has an off sale license (such as The ABC Store). How does this work? With places like The ABC Store on fremont selling 2/$5 Bud Lights you will be given them in a paper bag which is stapled shut with the receipt attached.

So, now that you're ready to come to Las Vegas and enjoy yourself and your new wealth of knowledge, which if any of these surprised you? Do you have any questions about what's legal and what's not in Las Vegas? Leave them in the comments below and I'll be sure to answer them!

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