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Megan McArdle

What Happens in Vegas Is Filmed in Vegas

Two things stand out to a libertarian visitor to Las Vegas: In some ways, it has the most liberty of any place in the U.S. -- and it also has the most developed surveillance state.
Check your liberties at the city limit.

Check your liberties at the city limit.

Photographer: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

So this weekend, I went to Las Vegas for the first time. I’m not much of a gambler -- I quit playing when they raise the minimums past $5 -- but there’s enough of a theme-park aspect to the place that a few friends and I managed to have a terrific time. Two things immediately stand out to the libertarian visitor: In some ways, it has the most liberty of any place in the U.S. -- and it also has the country’s most developed surveillance state.

First, the libertarian aspects: All sorts of things that aren’t allowed in normal cities are positively encouraged on the Vegas strip -- gambling, obviously, but also things such as drinking and smoking in public. The casinos still allow smoking, and every bar is happy to give you a to-go cup if you don’t want to linger. I’m a little old for all-day drinking, but I did wander around an arcade with a frozen margarita, reveling in my newfound freedom.