Las Vegas Social Media Has an Ethics Problem

Caesars Palace CasinoCaesars Palace Casino

A Twitter account with a history of starting inaccurate rumors known as Vegas Starfish reported to followers on Thursday that Caesars Palace and Nobu canceled Super Bowl hotel reservations while keeping deposits if guests did not agree to be bumped.

Caesars Entertainment sources deny most of the story

Vegas Advantage had three discussions with Caesars Entertainment sources. All three called the report by Vegas Starfish mostly inaccurate.

All sources agreed that this occurred only to a few Nobu guests. One estimated the number to be about 50. No Caesars Palace hotel guests were affected, according to the sources. The rates given for the Nobu rooms were over 90% off the correct price. The Vegas Starfish video shows guests receiving deals below $150 a night for rooms. Our sources agree that these guests received the bargain prices when the correct rate was well over $1000, describing it as an obvious pricing error.

The rate error was live for about 12 hours, according to one source. Caesars Entertainment caught it six to eight weeks after the bookings and three weeks before the Super Bowl, according to the same person.

Depending on the situation and what the guest decided, a room at a nearby Caesars property was offered for the price booked, or a full refund of the deposit was given. Comps were given to guests who agreed to be bumped for the inconvenience. 

The affected guests have every right to be unhappy. However, this is far from scandalous and is in the terms and conditions each guest agreed to when making reservations. A business does not have to sell something at a steep discount just because it scanned at over 90 percent off the real price. This is no different. 

Large hotel companies often bump guests when one property is oversold. While the situation is a little different, this is hardly newsworthy and puts Caesars Entertainment in a bad light it does not deserve. 

It’s time to have a serious discussion about social media ethics 

Las Vegas Social media should be a fun and informative place. Nachosgate is a recent example of how it can be used for entertainment and improve the market.

In the last few months, the account in question blew up on Twitter. The first problem was a rumor about Fontainebleau. The account reported that windows fell out of the hotel weeks before it opened, an assertion that turned out to be inaccurate. The source for the story claimed to work at the hotel but could not spell it correctly. That red flag was ignored in the reporting.

Fontainebleau spent $3.7 billion on the property. At a minimum, it was grossly irresponsible to spread this rumor without attempting to uncover the truth first. Shortly after, the same account promoted products without disclosing a partnership. There are many instances of this problem. The FTC makes it clear disclosures must be made in these situations.

This is far from the only Las Vegas social media account with serious ethical issues. However, it is the one that seems to be the most out of line recently.

Social media brought fame and influencing opportunities to people without training on how to handle it. While there is a learning curve, most get it and use it responsibly. People I have called out in the past for doing the same as described above learned from their mistakes. I admit to making some mistakes along the way that became learning experiences. 

The problem is when the situation gets worse as time goes by, not better. At some point, it seems that misinformation is the product.

Two situations cause this

The Las Vegas social media ethics problem is two-fold. So-called influencers are rewarded for spreading baseless rumors since followers interact and share them. This creates ad views that social media platforms pay large accounts to generate. The incentive to not care about facts is created by social media platforms that incentivize ad impressions above accuracy. 

The truth may only get a few views. An outrageous rumor can go viral, which makes the creator money.

The truth being less important than impressions creates attitudes like this:

This is an admission that the truth does not matter. Any company that partners with this account for promotional purposes endorses that attitude.

The other problem is companies that work with creators with a history of making false statements and failing to disclose conflicts.

Some companies don’t seem to care about ethics. If they can convince a social media personality with a large following to promote their product, it is a cheap way to get in front of more potential customers. However, this contributes to the ethics problem. If a company does not care that its partner does not follow FTC guidelines, that business is part of the problem. It is an endorsement of deceitful business practices.

When companies partner with people who break federal law, there is a risk of being associated with the influencer in question if the FTC comes knocking one day. These partnerships also damage the quality of Las Vegas content. If shills who refuse to disclose conflicts of interest and payments for services run rampant in the social media content world, it lowers the overall quality of the product. Eventually, the space will be filled with only spam.

What can be done to fix the problem

The best way to rid social media of this problem is to stop following accounts that repeatedly spread false statements and make misrepresentations for clicks and views. Don’t share the content or interact with it. If there is no demand for rumormongering, it will stop.

Businesses should partner with companies and people who believe in ethics. Not only will potential customers respect the business more, but there is no risk of getting caught up in a dishonest influencer’s inevitable scandals.

author avatar
John Mehaffey
John, a founding member of Advantage Media LLC, got his start in gaming as a prop player at online poker sites. He played online poker from 2001 to 2005. In 2004, he created a site that served as a directory for an online poker promotional method known as rakeback. He sold that site in 2006 and moved his family from Atlanta to Rapid City, SD to work for a similar company. They later moved to Las Vegas in 2010. John’s favorite game is full-pay video poker. His favorite table game is Ultimate Texas Hold’em, though he would rather play it in video form. Currently, John is best known for compiling blackjack and table game data including all Las Vegas and Clark County casinos.