Public Affairs
Hardcover $27.99
What Stays in Vegas
The World of Personal Data-Lifeblood of Big Business-and the End of Privacy as We Know It


The greatest threat to privacy today is not the NSA, but good-old American companies. Internet giants, leading retailers, and other firms are voraciously gathering data with little oversight from anyone.

In Las Vegas, no company knows the value of data better than Caesars Entertainment. Many thousands of enthusiastic clients pour through the ever-open doors of their casinos. The secret to the company’s success lies in their one unrivaled asset: they know their clients intimately by tracking the activities of the overwhelming majority of gamblers. They know exactly what games they like to play, what foods they enjoy for breakfast, when they prefer to visit, who their favorite hostess might be, and exactly how to keep them coming back for more.

Caesars’ dogged data-gathering methods have been so successful that they have grown to become the world’s largest casino operator, and have inspired companies of all kinds to ramp up their own data mining in the hopes of boosting their targeted marketing efforts. Some do this themselves. Some rely on data brokers. Others clearly enter a moral gray zone that should make American consumers deeply uncomfortable.

We live in an age when our personal information is harvested and aggregated whether we like it or not. And it is growing ever more difficult for those businesses that choose not to engage in more intrusive data gathering to compete with those that do. Tanner’s timely warning resounds: Yes, there are many benefits to the free flow of all this data, but there is a dark, unregulated, and destructive netherworld as well.

about Adam Tanner

  • Adam Tanner writes about the business of personal data. He is a fellow at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University and was previously a Nieman fellow there. Tanner has worked for Reuters News Agency as Balkans bureau chief (based in Belgrade, Serbia), as well as San Francisco bureau chief, and has had previous postings in Berlin, Moscow, and Washington, DC. He also contributes to Forbes and other magazines.


“[A] masterpiece...Tanner's book is one of the best business books written this year; in fact, it is one of the best business books in this century. It reminds me of Joe Nocera's first book, A Piece of the Action, in that it combines detailed knowledge of his subject matter with an excellent writing style, countless personal interviews and observations of events.” Don McNay, Huffington Post

What Stays in Vegasis an engrossing, story-packed takedown of the data industry…What Stays in Vegas offers a narrative that transforms Big Data from spreadsheet-dull to a racy read people will pay attention to.” Financial Times

“The book provides an insider’s look at the business of assembling, packaging and reselling data, and it uses glittery Las Vegas to show that kind of information at work.” Dina Temple-Raston, Washington Post

“Mr. Tanner's engaging book is realistic.” Marc Levinson, Wall Street Journal

“[A] very readable account about our disappearing privacy…What Stays in Vegas is both readable and entertaining, and in a similar manner as Michael Lewis's writings, Tanner provides interesting stories about the people and companies that are now so directly involved in our personal lives.” Winnipeg Free Press

“I would recommend the Tanner book with the excellent title of What Stays in Vegas.” Inside Higher Ed

“A compelling read on what companies are doing, how they get our information, what they do with it, and how some business approaches are more respectful of privacy than others” Irish Times

“Tanner illustrates his arguments with a traditional, vivid example from the business and entertainment world: Caesars Palace in Las Vegas…Tanner weaves this example into a gripping account of the modern direct-marketing industry… In this fascinating look at the dazzling if suffocating domain of digital information gathering, Tanner concludes that it is returning us to a world of farms and villages, where intimate details of everyone’s lives were public knowledge.”Kirkus Reviews, *starred* review

“Data may be to the 21st century economy what oil was to the 20th, a hugely valuable asset essential to economic life and often a source of conflict. This entertaining yet deeply informative book is a great guide to what has, or hasn’t, happened and to what lies ahead.” Lawrence Summers, former Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, & President Emeritus and Charles W. Eliot University Professor of Harvard University

“In Adam Tanner’s fast-paced investigative report, What Stays in Vegas, we learn that the great advances of the digital age, access and interconnectedness, also carry great risks. Never before has information about one’s identity been more valuable or easier to track for insights—and advantage. As we continue gathering data to unlock the secrets of our pasts and futures, here’s what I hope doesn’t ‘stay in Vegas’: the need to read Tanner’s book to figure out how to balance the promise of personalization against the threats posed to privacy. It’s much too important a question to leave to the roll of dice.” Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor of Harvard University

other editions

  • Hardcover | ISBN 9781610394185
    Pub date: 2014-09-02 | Price: $27.99/31.00 Canada
    Publisher: PublicAffairs
    6.400 x 9.500 | 336 Pages
    Business & Economics / Marketing / Direct
    Law / Privacy
    Political Science / Public Policy / Science & Technology Policy
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  • eBook | ISBN 9781610394192
    Pub date: 2014-09-02 | Price: $27.99/31.00 Canada
    Publisher: PublicAffairs
    6.125 x 9.250 | 336 Pages
    Business & Economics / Marketing / Direct
    Law / Privacy
    Political Science / Public Policy / Science & Technology Policy
    Request reprints and permissions