The glitz and glamour that is Las Vegas is the reason some 40 million people visit the city located in the Mojave Desert every year. The Las Vegas Boulevard, which dominates The Strip, is colloquially referred to as the Arrowhead Highway or the Salt Lake Highway among other names. The thrills of the Sin City come in the form of nightclubs, fine dining, live shows, shopping and biggest of them all gambling, which remains the single largest source of revenue for the city.

The revenues are mainly accessed through sales tax, gaming tax and property tax. Whether you are looking to crack aces in the game of poker, roll the reels at the slot machines or bet on your favorite sports outcome, the casinos in Las Vegas are awash with every kind of entertainment. The high stakes gambling floors also come with own share of crazy stories, here are a few that harangue major pitfalls and celebrate big triumphs in equal measure.


Drawing a Jackpot may come to haunt you
We’ve heard stories of how lottery winners have undergone a life of despair soon after cashing out their winnings. Forget poor money management skills, drugs and overzealous friends, winning a jackpot also attracts another “undesirable mention”, shining a spotlight on the winner. A woman from Arizona was lucky to draw a winning jackpot of $1,200 at a Vegas casino. When she was- asked to produce her ID to facilitate payment transfer, she unable to produce an ID or passport and was dully deported to Mexico without her winnings after word went round. The lesson here is you need to have an ID at your disposal at all times and avoid situations that could jeopardize your life.


As happened to the FedEx boss, gambling can mean great fortune
The true measure of lady luck is sometimes hard to decipher, especially when you are caught between the rock and a hard place. In 1972, the Founder and CEO of FedEx, Fred Smith had only $5,000 in his bank account and was looking for fuel bill amounting to $24,000 that needed to be paid urgently. He also did not know where to get money to pay his employees wages. The thought of liquidating the firm, which was in its formative years of operation, crossed his mind, but that wasn’t an attractive option. Since Smith knew he was a good Blackjack player, he opted to try his luck at one of the famed casinos in Vegas. Armed with his $5,000, he luckily won $27,000 and everything else fell into place. Today, Smith’s net worth is estimated at $2 billion, while FedEx employs close to 300,000 workers across the world.


Free booze at the casino doesn’t always mean free
Taking a few brews while playing the game of cards may seem like a common casino ritual. Indeed, casinos in Vegas generally offer free beer to patrons as a way to trap them into frequenting their establishments, even though most people think it is a strategy designed to push players into making bad decisions. For Terrence Watanabe, a businessman from the Midwest, a mix of drugs and alcohol cost him a huge fortune which he lives to regret it. On a fine day in 2007, the Nebraska native lost more than $125 million at Caesars Palace and the Rio. After the bad experience, Terrence accused Caesars for handing him vodka and painkillers in a move that forced him to lose concentration and not realize just how much money he was losing.

Although it was normal for him to stake out $5 million on a single day, since he had an unlimited access to $17 million credit limit with the Caesars casino. He unwittingly made several wrong judgments that would ultimately cost him to lose entire family net worth. In one case, he simultaneously played 3 hands of Blackjack for $50,000 per hand. At the end of the bad run, Terrence was unable to foot the bill on his credit as he normally does and the casino sued him. He also decided to countersue the casino for allowing free flow of alcohol and pills. Lucky for him, the case was dropped and he did not have to spend time in jail; had the case gone the other way, Terrence would be looking at over 25 years in jail.


Heart attack at Heart Attack Grill!
As if the name of the restaurant wasn’t scary enough, a guy actually had a heart attack at the Heart Attack Grill in Vegas. Diners who frequent the restaurant are clearly informed about the outrageous menu offerings in order to alert them on what they are getting into. Added to this, a terse warning on the door warns that the restaurant accepts cash only because a patron may collapse and die before the check is cleared. One such offer is the Quadruple Bypass Burger with 10,000 calories. The other trappings include butterfat shake, non-filler cigarettes and soda with raw cane sugar. To reiterate this message, the restaurant owner went on live TV to show the cremated remains of a customer who took the bait and his chances.


Cheaters, really?
In 2000, two gamblers James Grosjean and Michael Russo were briefly detained by a well-known casino in Vegas for a suspected crime of cheating. Following the accusations, the casino quietly decided to place the names of the two gamblers in its undesirable database of blacklisted gamblers. Russo and Grosjean did not take the news lightly and promptly decided to sue the casino for the bad rap. In their defense, they said they were not found with stolen materials nether were illegal chips found in their position. The gentlemen won the suit in a move that forced the Griffins casino to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2005. From that day on, the casinos decided to deny players the onus of counting cards. The big lesson here is that lawsuits can change the way gamblers and casinos ply their trade.