Vendors are no longer allowed to set up shop in front of casinos like the Bellagio on the Las Vegas Strip. (Contributor: Ian Dagnall / Alamy)
Clark County officials voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve a new ordinance that prohibits street vendors from operating near casino resorts, convention centers, and other public event facilities. Because of course, why would they want you eating a $4 hot dog before walking into the hotel property that will happily sell you a $28 burger and fries to wash down with a $12 domestic beer?
Under the new ordinance, effective immediately, street vendors will be barred from working within 1,500 feet of a resort hotel or near a facility that can seat at least 20,000 people – a designation that covers the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, T-Moblie Arena, Allegiant Stadium, and the Sphere. Violators of the ordinance will face fines of up to $500.
The decision to pass this ordinance came after confusion surrounding a new state law passed earlier this year that is set to go into effect Oct. 17. The state law, which received nearly unanimous bipartisan support, requires Clark and Washoe counties to establish a clear licensing framework for street vendors – whether it be for food or souvenirs – and to modernize rules for obtaining valid permits.
Clark County had until Oct. 15 to establish new restrictions for the resort corridor in Las Vegas before the new state law takes effect.
Commission Chair Jim Gibson said at Tuesday’s hearing that the county is currently working on a second ordinance that will provide specific details about licensing requirements, constraints, and enforcement mechanisms for street vendors outside the Clark County resort corridor. This ordinance is expected to be introduced early next year.
In addition to licensing requirements, the county will also need to designate areas where street food vendors can legally operate. County officials are currently creating a website that will show areas where sidewalk vending is prohibited.
County commissioners criticized the state officials for creating confusion with their messaging. After Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo had declared street food vendors now “open for business” when signing the law in June, in August a video went viral showing an aggressive confrontation between police and a taco vendor near the Welcome to Las Vegas Sign. The scene highlighted the lack of clarity surrounding what’s allowed and where.
“I can’t wait to start enforcement, because unfortunately there’s more than 10 [vendors] there any given night,” county commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick told the Nevada Current. “I don’t think that was the intent for the Las Vegas sign.”
Kirkpatrick estimates there are 300 street and sidewalk vendors in Clark County, many of whom would seek a license once a clear process is set.
Under the new state law, the Nevada secretary of state's office will set up a Task Force on Safe Sidewalk Vending to advise counties on recommended permitting and regulatory processes.
A representative of the Nevada Resort Association expressed support for the new restrictions at the Tuesday hearing, and informed the commission that her group’s top priority would be establishing robust enforcement mechanisms to ensure there are no sidewalk vendors along the resort corridor.
Supporters of the new law and new country ordinance claim it’s all about pedestrian safety – though some suggest it’s more about pedestrian hunger.
Having invested millions in both casual and fine dining options, casino behemoths such as MGM, Caesars, and Wynn all supported the legislative push for regulations that protected their revenue by preventing unlicensed street vendors from operating in close proximity to their properties.