Las Vegas Not Drunk Enough to Make List of Top 20 Booziest Cities

Posted on: May 27, 2017, 09:35h. 

Last updated on: May 27, 2017, 10:34h.

Las Vegas may be thought of as Sin City, but that doesn’t mean the place is awash in booze 24/7. Well, actually, maybe it is. But when it comes to determining the drunkest cities in America, Las Vegas hasn’t got a thing on Midwestern metropolises such as Dubuque, Iowa, Lincoln, Nebraska, or Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Drinking in Las Vegas
No matter how much this guy can throw back in a night, it won’t be enough to declare the whole city of Las Vegas one of the drunkest places on the map. (Image:

A study conducted by financial news website 24/7 Wall Street looked to identify the 20 drunkest cities in America based on rates of excessive imbibing rate and other factors related to alcohol-fueled social ills. The list revealed that while Las Vegas’ reputation as a party city may be well-deserved, it hardly constitutes a civic health risk.

The study found the biggest drunks weren’t seen stumbling along the Strip or passed out in a casino lobby. Spoiler alert: in ranking the drunkest cities, the number one destination was Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Las Vegas didn’t even crack the Top 20. So what gives? Scroll through the list, and you notice some patterns. Most of the towns at the top are in the Midwest, a lot are in college towns, and almost all were in places that are super-cold for more than half the year.

The state of Wisconsin had nine cities on the list. Three places in Iowa made the top 20. Minnesota and North Dakota also made respectable showings. And even Fairbanks, Alaska, let it be known they have something to offer that Las Vegas does not.

What Doesn’t Happen in Vegas …

For one, unlike most towns on the list, Las Vegas isn’t much of a college town, at least not of the sort where tailgating has made Saturday morning binge drinking a community affair. The number of large state school cities that made the list can always rely on a new crop of kids moving to town, ready to come of age not too far from campus.

There’s UNLV, with 28,000 students, but most of them are commuters. And even for those who do like to party, it’s not the same when they can just blend in with the crowds at casinos and nightclubs within stumbling distance (or maybe just a cheap Uber ride) from home.

Similarly, casinos may have a reputation for plying gamblers with free booze, but really that trend is rescinding, as corporate Las Vegas casinos are reducing the breeziness with which they dole out free alcohol and other comps for people who aren’t necessarily high rollers.

And while tourists come to town to party hard, the Las Vegas metro area is home to nearly 2 million residents, most of whom are not partying 24/7. For every drunken bachelor party on the Strip, there’s a family in the surrounding areas not rocking out, but rather at home getting ready for school the next day.

Boozer’s Methodology

The methodology in this study used self-reported data from the departments of health and human services in 381 metropolitan areas to determine the prevalence of excessive drinking, which correlated with total number of bars and a percentage of auto fatalities where alcohol was involved.

The same study also compiled a list of the “driest” cities in America. Another spoiler: Provo, Utah, was number one. Despite being a college town, the home of BYU boasts only 10 bars in town and only 8.5 percent of the adult population experienced in excessive drinking.

Fortunately, for those charged with marketing Las Vegas as the world’s premiere party destination, Las Vegas was nowhere close to making that list.

Another recent study of “Drunkest Cities in America” by The Daily Beast used slightly different metrics, and still Las Vegas couldn’t crack the top 20, coming in at number 21.

If anything, the 24/7 study assessed indicators of problem drinking, not simply volume of booze consumed. So while many may fondly recall Las Vegas as a place where they drank more than they thought humanly possible, as a city it’s a place that does pretty well holding its liquor.