Bringing children (kids) to Las Vegas has long been an intense debate among both Las Vegas tourists and tourism professionals. In the early 90’s, casinos thought it would be a great idea to build theme parks and try to turn the town’s image from “sin city” to “family-friendly” for the kids in Las Vegas. Then they realized that they GOOFED. Mirage Las Vegas Resorts started instituting “no stroller” policies, and hotels like the Riviera and Tropicana started advertising slogans like “Rollers, Not Strollers”. The word got around that catering to families is stupid because they use the cheap rooms, eat the cheap food, and are too busy with the kids to gamble.
While we aren’t concerned about the casino’s bottom line (our income is derived from booking rooms and rental cars), every trip to the Las Vegas Strip or downtown — made often in this line of work — we see tortured-looking parents with the mommy pushing the stroller and the daddy dragging along the 5 year old, neither of whom should have been subjected to miles of walking through this adult playground.
I’ve seen happier faces on gamblers who just lost 5 straight $100 hands at blackjack than on these parents faces, who undoubtedly have to be envious of all child-free tourist couples whom look like they are having the romantic vacation of a lifetime. And these kids that young won’t remember their first visit to Las Vegas.
If your children are old enough that you feel comfortable letting them run around an amusement park, checking in every few hours, then they will find plenty to do here. Just give them the cell phone, you keep that SkyTell pager, and have a great time. And if they are old enough to perhaps remember a supervised vacation and you can resist the temptation of parking them in the hallway or stuffing in the room while you take just one more pull or play just one more hand (let’s face it, winning seems to always happen when you don’t have the time to keep playing), then you might do fine.
But you will be happiest leaving them with the grandparents for the weekend and really enjoying your stay without your kids in Las Vegas!
This article originally appeared June 24, 1999 in the Access Vegas Insider Vibe