Vegas myths busted: Pedestrian water vendors refill bottles


Published on: January 29, 2024 at 08:16 pm.

Last updated on: February 3, 2024 at 01:01 h.

A new law banning parking on pedestrian bridges on the Las Vegas Strip has shined a spotlight on people who were already doing business there illegally. In fact, the role played by a group of unlicensed bottled water sellers in enacting this law may not have been insignificant, as‘s Vital Vegas Blogger Scott Rubin recently argued.

An illegal vendor sells three bottles of water
An illegal vendor sells three water bottles (note their identical labels and caps) to a woman on a pedestrian bridge in Las Vegas. (picture: KLAS-TV/Las Vegas)

These vendors sell water for $1 to $5 a bottle during the summer months to visitors who haven’t planned properly because they’re on vacation.

But are these sellers doing something worse? According to a persistent rumor spread by tourist sites, they routinely collect empty bottles from rubbish bins and refill them with tap water.

Interpretation of the myth

The first version of this warning that we can find came from a legitimate source. In 2010, the late Las Vegas Police Sgt. Mike Ford said KLAS-TV/Las Vegas That unhoused people would “take water bottles out of the trash, fill them with water from an unknown source — it could be a tap, it could be anywhere — then put them in a cooler and sell them for $2.”

“Tourists have no idea where the bottles come from, and when they open them, someone has drunk from them before.”

Character from the 2008 movie the homeless milionaire Stick the cap back on a used water bottle. (Image: Warner Independent Pictures)

But doesn’t everyone notice that those clicks did not accompany opening the bottle caps?

2008 movie the homeless milionaire This part has been covered.

In it, Salem’s character can be seen attaching a cap to a water bottle that he took from the trash and filled it with tap water.

A Tripadvisor user from Roanoke, Virginia apparently hadn’t seen the movie, but heard the same story from a more reliable source.

“I’ve actually heard it from two people, the first being an Elvis impersonator on the Show Bus of the Stars tour,” the user posted in 2012.

“Elvis said they take empty bottles out of trash cans and fill them with tap water, taping the tops so hard you think you’re getting a new bottle.”

Doesn’t hold water

Sorry, Elvis, but the closest Walmart to the Strip is currently selling a 35-pack of 16.9-ounce bottles of Pure Life water for $7, including tax.

That’s an outlay of 20 cents per bottle.

A street water vendor in Las Vegas opted for convenience with an oversized cooler on wheels — also known as a litter box. (Image:

What’s more likely — that someone spent hours recycling to collect completely empty, not crushed water bottles from just one brand, along with color-matching caps, and then refilled each bottle, or that they’re okay with sacrificing a 20-cent profit. per bottle to earn between $28 and $168 for every $7 they spend at Walmart?

While there is no guarantee that people who choose to break the law to earn income are sincere, we have never heard of a single seller caught doing so. never. This may be because doing so would be an unreasonable waste of their time.

Oh and Super glue? Not only would it not be able to reproduce those opening clicks, but it would also leave a telltale scent behind.

Water over the bridge

While what water vendors in Las Vegas are doing is illegal, they are not begging you for money. They don’t pester you for a bigger tip after posing with you in a superhero or showgirl costume for a selfie. And they don’t trick you with a confidence game like the three-card game.

They provide a service that has probably already saved many lives. As a 2002 study published in… American journal of epidemiology, Dehydration increases the risk of heart attacks at any given moment by 46% in men and 59% in women.

Illegal vendors would not sell illegally if Clark County, the Strip’s governing body, provided more opportunities along the Strip for dehydrated tourists to hydrate themselves in legal, affordable and healthy ways.

And sorry, we don’t consider $7 gift shop water at resorts affordable or water fountains that people put parts of in their mouths to be healthy.

So, next time you’re thirsty while walking the block in 115-degree heat — especially after a couple of drinks from a stronger, drier variety — it’s totally okay to buy a cold bottle from an unlicensed stranger. At least it’s much less dangerous than walking a mile and a half in your case.

That is if you can find a water peddler who hasn’t been taken to prison by the time you get here.

Look for “Vegas Legends Busted” every Monday Click here to read the Vegas Legends preset. Do you have a suggestion for a Vegas legend that needs busting? Email

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