/ / / / / / /

Downtown Vegas Gets A Little Less Boozy

May 27, 2014 at 8:18 PM | by | ()

Downtown Vegas is awesome. Downtown Vegas is also a hot mess. That's kind of what makes Downtown Vegas a fun place, but it's getting out of control for some. Many of the recently renovated or opened businesses on Fremont East come with some form of alcohol sales. Walking from the El Cortez to the Fremont Street Experience can feel as though you're walking through a teenage battle zone. The combination of testosterone, booze and bros creates a fun yet obnoxious path.

When you do get to the Fremont Street Experience, you'll walk through an ever shrinking concourse. Slotzilla and the FSE stages block east and west entry points to the canopy. Bars now jut into the walkway from almost every casino pushing people closer to the middle of a concourse already famously clogged with kiosks selling big balls, street performers and people dressed up in costumes hawking pictures.

Combine this shrinking space with easy access to alcohol from casinos and other stores and you have a recipe for chaos. Downtown Vegas has always been a hot mess, but it's getting out of control for a variety of reasons. The city council seems to think the easiest fix is to cut back on how much booze we can easily, and cheaply, access. Last week, they approved some changes to alcohol sales on Fremont Street in efforts to calm the chaos and make everyone more comfortable.

The new laws for booze sales under the Fremont Street Experience will forbid the following:

• Advertising alchohol in windows.
• The sale of malt liquor or beer in containers greater than 32 ounces.
• The sale of hard liquor minis.
• The sale of beer with alcohol content of 11% or more.
• Any new stores that sell liquor/wine/beer or coolers.

There's one exception that would allow alcohol sales -- grocery stores or pharmacies greater than 12,000 square feet that are attached to buildings with 200 rooms or more. Rumor is that the owners of Las Vegas Club are considering turning the hotel into condos while renovating the casino to become a CVS or Walgreens.

Downtown Vegas is also considering restricting all alcoholic drinks to plastic cups. The rule would be in effect for a 32-block radius around Fremont. The move would help police officers enforce a rule that prohibits folks from drinking booze in the vicinity of the store from which it was purchased.

There also has been discussion of potentially limiting outdoor casino bars, but so far it's just been talk. These new ordinances may slow alcohol consumption on Fremont Street which could help calm the chaos of so many people packed together in an increasingly more confined space. Do you think the restrictions will help, though? Leave your thoughts down below.

[Photo: Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for D Las Vegas]

Archived Comments:

Oh C'mon now

People that want to drink are going to find their drink. I'm all for less congestion, but I want to be able to drink what, where and when I want when I'm in downtown Sin City! I mean, dang!

I don't come here to hang out with the sisters of her immaculate sobriety reading club! This is Vegas after all! ;)

I want to stroll the street, take my picture with friggen Darth Vader and offer Wonder Woman a daiquiri!  

Looks like you can

With the exception of malt liquor or other fortified beer and tiny bottles of booze, it appears you are welcome to drink what you want.  What they are trying to control are the wino-bums and 19 year olds who are guzzling rocket fuel beer from those dingy gifts shops.  They haven't limited the casino front bars or any of the other venues.  


It's no coincidence the major casinos/bars/clubs will see minimal (if any) impact of these new restrictions.  But, the small "mom and pop" shops that sell alcohol will take the brunt of it.  A skeptic (O.K. - raising my hand here) viewing all this would think the major players Downtown are attempting to stifle the competition.


I have similar thoughts about the preferential treatment. At the same time tourists are visiting the area for those hotels, not for the non-casino stores. We'll see if they do anything with the outdoor casino bars. I doubt it but we'll see.

Deflecting attention

The alcohol doesn't bother me on Fremont nearly as much as all the costumed beggars and kiosks. It's looking more like the strip each time I visit, and that's not a compliment.

My biggest issue

My biggest issue is the lack of advertising. All that will do is kill any kind of competition to keep prices low. No signs in windows probably means no drink specials, because what's the point in a sale if you're not allowed to tell anyone about it.

Agree with AndyAkeko...

Getting rid of the costumed beggers should be priority #1, I swear I've seen the superman character on Drugs Inc being arrested for herion possession!  Some of these people are just down right filthy, along with their "costumes"!

The Stripification of Downtown continues.

While I agree that something needs to be done to keep the underage drinking to a minimum. This ban is only going to hurt local business owners who have been doing business for years on fremont. I say grandfather the current businesses in and restrict any NEW business. Until this thing gets under control the Stripification of downtown will continue. I loved downtown when it was dingy, scary, and offered a good gamble. Now we have resort fees, costumed beggars DEMANDING a tip, and more homeless with signs asking us to kick them in the nuts for 20 bucks. SOMETHING needs to be done it's Downtown Vegas NOT Hollywood Blvd!


Here we have Downtown trying to cut back on exactly what the Strip casino/resorts are all building or plan to build. The Strip wants to target the pedestrian dollar with lines of outdoor bars. Maybe the money has the power here. Big Strip resort owners may have a hand in influencing public officials in an attempt to encourage more people to embark in the "Strip Experience" (my term) instead of the Fremont Experience...

Let Downtown be Downtown!

Leave Downtown as it is but make more uniformed cops visible as a deterrent and to keep everybody in-line.

Liquor stores on Fremont a big mistake

It's one thing when tourists are getting loaded and having fun. It's another thing when swarms of underaged locals are getting both drunk and menacing. These liquor stores are like a magnet for the wrong kind of people.

I think people who object to these crowd-control efforts haven't been under the canopy on a weekend night for a while, especially during the "First Friday" parties which have been a big problem. In fact, wasn't there a shooting on Fremont in the past year?

Fremont hotels seem to be enjoying an upswing. It would be a shame if the street mob scene started scaring people away.

safety first, but still annoying...

While it can't hurt to try to curtail liquor stores selling to underage kids, I agree things like lack of ads in windows just mean things get pricier for everyone.  Also, it is kinda ridiculous to allow Slotzilla and a dozen bars to take up more than half the available square footage under the canopy and then be shocked!... shocked! to discover that it is more crowded with rowdy drunks than ever before.

Annoying bit, from my viewpoint will be either losing the semi-civilized experience of drinking my hard-earned 'free' casino drink out of a real glass for those few places that still do that... or being hassled by cops on the street for forgetting to pour a bottled beer into (or find in the first place) a plastic cup before wandering between casinos...  That ability to wander easily between human-scaled, close together casino options is one of the things that makes downtown more fun for me than the Strip... inconveniences to that, however minor, start to add up...

Hot mess is right.

I visited Downtown Vegas two weeks ago, and the place was a far cry from my last visit a year ago. Dancing girls, loud music, a bikini clad DJ dancing on stage, showgirls raising their legs above their heads taking pictures with adoring tourists too stunned to resist, bars galore, street performers, and on and on and on. Mass chaos that all melded together creating an assault to the senses. I loved it!  


There already is a law on the books that says liquor purchased from package stores cannot be consumed in public..only liquor purchased from a casino can be. its for the most part not enforced

No Ads In Windows?

I'm with joshrocker on this. What about the $2 Corona "ads" on marquees? Are those equivalent to window ads? Methinks this could be free speech violation and needs a rethink in a hurry.

Wrong focus

I think they are trying to change  the only reason people visit downtown.
I wouldn't book a room downtown EVER. I rarely gamble downtown.  But I DO visit one or two nights each trip for the "party atmosphere", and to wander around with a drink in my hand at all times.
How in the hell would plastic cups solve drinking problems? You could wander around with Draino in a plastic cup for all cops know.
I agree with other posters that purging the bums/pan handlers should be the NUMBER ONE focus. I'm pretty tired of practically getting assaulted by these folks who harass, and even follow you sometimes begging. Nobody likes seeing people sitting in their piss with a silly sign, telling the same hard luck story they did 3 yrs ago when you visited, and they were parked in the same spot.