Controversial Las Vegas Strip law takes effect

Las Vegas has a well-earned reputation as a city where everything is legal.

When most people think of the Las Vegas Strip they picture its glitz and glamor. They also see a world that caters to excess.

That’s why a movie like “The Hangover,” where the lead character wakes up in a hotel room that contains one of Mike Tyson’s tigers, seemed plausible. That may be an extreme version of what actually happens in Vegas, but many visitors to the city have awakened to the aftermath of choices they don’t remember that well.

Related: Iconic Las Vegas Strip attraction shut down ahead of Super Bowl

In most cases, that’s probably not a new spouse you just met, but it could be a big purchase or gambling winnings (or losses) when play was probably a poor choice. You can wake up in Vegas with a hangover or, thanks to legal cannabis, still a little altered from the night before.

Most people, of course, will head home with an exaggerated  “only in Vegas” story, not one fit for “Hangover 4.” Still, in a place where gambling is legal and gluttony as well as alcohol and marijuana consumption are encouraged, rules aren’t the first thing you think of.

Sure, all the basics apply — you can’t steal or hurt other people — but you can smoke indoors, bet on nearly anything, buy a drink pretty much anywhere, and consume pot in everything from a joint to sodas, candies, and every other way imaginable. 

That makes it odd that a new Clark County ordinance, which just went into effect, literally stops people from standing still.

The Strip is filled with women dressed as showgirls who sell pictures.

Image source: Shutterstock

Las Vegas Strip has a new law   

While the Las Vegas Strip sits on an actual street, Las Vegas Boulevard, it does not have normal sidewalks in many places. That’s especially true on the south and central sections of the Strip, where Caesars Entertainment  (CZR) – Get Free Report and MGM Resorts International  (MGM) – Get Free Report have resort casinos packed in closely.

Because people crossing the street slow down traffic on a road that’s often gridlocked, the city has built a series of pedestrian bridges connected by staircases, escalators and elevators. Those walkways offer some spectacular views of the Strip, and people stopping to take pictures can cause walking traffic to back up.

Clark County’s latest law, which went into effect Jan. 16, makes it a crime to stop walking on Strip pedestrian bridges. That may seem extreme, but it’s an effort to stop the Strip’s foot traffic from getting stuck, which could cause a dangerous situation.

What you need to know about Las Vegas’s new law    

The new ordinance, which makes stopping on pedestrian bridges a misdemeanor, became necessary after walking traffic stopped on bridges during Formula 1 weekend. That race, which literally took place on the Las Vegas Strip, offered lots of opportunities for gawking and picture taking.

Clark County commissioners did not pass the new law in order to punish people for loitering. Instead, they wanted to give police a tool to use when people stop on bridges, causing others to get stuck. Previously, officers could ask people to move but couldn’t actually make them do so.

Even though the law has gone into effect, it won’t be enforced just yet. Police are waiting for signs to be installed on the bridges to make people aware of the changed rules. 

That process should start by, but probably won’t be completed by, Feb. 11, when the Super Bowl takes place at Las Vegas’s Allegiant Stadium, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

“Are we going to stop people for stopping and taking a picture at all? Absolutely not,” Clark County Sheriff Kevin McMahill told the paper. 

“But those chronic individuals up there that are preying on our tourists and our locals that are visiting the Strip (are) just not going to have a place to do it anymore.”

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