'Worst Skid Row' under Las Vegas

Great story today on NPR's Day to Day about the homeless, junkies, addicted gamblers and others who live in the storm drains beneath Las Vegas, in some cases right under the casinos. It runs almost nine minutes, but I was hooked. Excerpt:

Matt O'Brien, a Las Vegas writer, has been exploring this underworld for several years. On one particular evening, he's outfitted sort of like a commando, with heavy boots, backpack and an industrial-sized flashlight that could double as a weapon.

"I've been exploring these storm drains for more than five years," he says sloshing through muck and gravel that blanket the tunnel floor. "I think I know these storm drains better than anyone who doesn't actually live in them. And I know the storm drain system probably � and this is nothing to brag about � better than anyone else."

No reason to doubt him. In 2007, O'Brien published a book, Beneath the Neon, about the 300 miles of underground tunnels that crisscross beneath the city.

"So, yeah, now we're moving underneath Caesar's Palace. Walking underneath kind of the main property there. This is one of the creepier areas of the storm drain system. Very remote, wet � extremely dark."

"Right underneath the Hard Rock is one of the worst Skid Rows I've ever seen in my life," says O'Brien. Among the characters he meets underground is Steve, 42, who makes his living by sneaking into casinos and "silver mining." That's the practice of grabbing and cashing out unclaimed credits on slot machines.

Noted: 'Day to Day' also had a story on Eli Broad's offer to help save MOCA.


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