Vega$ Just Got More Expensive: Find Out What You’ll Be Paying For On Your Next Visit!

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mgm resorts parking fee

Vegas Just Got More Expensive

MGM Resorts International announced today that they will begin charging for parking at most of their Las Vegas Strip hotels beginning in the 2nd quarter. This move has been rumored for months, but came as a surprise to some since it goes against a tradition of free parking that dates back to the city’s origins.

Of course MGM didn’t actually just come out and say what they are doing, but instead buried the news in a press release titled, “MGM Resorts International To Enhance Guest Parking Experience With New Parking Facility, New Technology Amenities And Upgrades To Existing Facilities” (And Your Going to Pay For It!) Ok, that last part is mine.

In the press release (which is artfully written) they slipped in the following statement, “The strategy includes the implementation of a parking fee program that will introduce a modest fee for customers utilizing valet services or self-park facilities.” A “parking fee program” eh? Well what will it cost? They aren’t specific, but they do say an overnight guest will pay “$10 or less”.

As part of this set of changes, MGM Resort International will do the following:

  • Redesign parking facility layouts to improve accessibility
  • Install parking guidance systems that will guide guests to available spaces
  • Utilize mobile technology to allow visitors to check space availability prior to arrival
  • Upgrade lighting, LED signage, paint and striping
  • Enhance and upgrade elevators and escalators
  • Build a new $54 million 3,000 space lot on the Northwest corner of the Excalibur property

Some of MGM’s parking garages are definitely old and in need of upgrades. The lot at the MGM Grand is terribly dated for example. These changes no doubt have been brought on by the new T-Mobile Arena (Formerly known as Las Vegas Arena) that will be opening in April. Despite saying for months that there are enough spaces, today’s news seems to be an admission that this simply isn’t true.

mgm resorts parking fee

Resort Fees All Over Again

Following the beginning of the Great Recession, room rates in Las Vegas hit shocking lows. During that time the casinos adopted a strategy popular in other heavily tourist frequented areas. They began charging resort fees to boost revenues. At the time they pointed to the fact that this practice was a norm in the industry. Guess what they said in today’s press release?

We recognize this is a significant departure from a long-established paradigm in the Las Vegas market. However, after months of analysis, we believe these enhancements and new technology solutions will become welcome additions to our overall guest experience.

…fee parking is a standard practice for hotels, resorts and entertainment facilities across the country, especially those in comparable high-demand tourist and convention destinations, such as New York, Los Angeles and Orlando.

Will Others Follow?

It took a couple of years, but after MGM Resorts put pressure on the Vegas hotel market with their resort fees (their rates seemed lower), nearly every company followed. Even Caesar’s Entertainment who once had an entire advertising campaign designed around not charging resort fees caved. I fear the same thing may be happening in Vegas and that is bad for everyone.

The truth is that there are hundreds (maybe even thousands) of empty parking spots in each of MGM’s properties on almost a nightly basis. In fact, they basically said that when asked if they would have enough spots for the arena. So why do they have to charge for parking on non-event days? Simple, because they want to make more money. Sure they may use this money to “enhance” parking in the short term, but changing the “free parking paradigm” in the long terms means serious cash.

How to Avoid the Fees

As part of the press release MGM announced that locals will have a grace period once the changes go into effect and that both locals and tourists will be able to avoid parking charges by enrolling and “earning privileges” in the M Life loyalty program. Exactly which level of status will be required wasn’t announced, but hopefully you Hyatt elites will be spared.

Conclusion

I wholeheartedly disagree with MGM’s decision to charge for parking and believe it is a bad move for customers. While I think charging for parking on event days would be perfectly fine, implementing a charge all of the time really exposes their true intentions in my opinion. Yes it will be nice to have a new garage and upgraded facilities, but the end result is a negative.

Of course MGM does own these properties and thus has the right to do what they want. In the end the free market will decide. Let’s hope that they see a traffic drop off and return to the days of free parking, but my guess is that won’t happen. Caesar’s is in financial trouble and is likely to follow suit in their search of new desperately needed revenue. Or maybe they’ll just create a free parking ad campaign before reversing course like they did with resort fees.

What do you think? Is this a savvy business move by MGM Resorts International or one that will cost them? Do you think they will be successful in shifting the paradigm in Vegas away from free parking? Let me know in the comments!


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22 COMMENTS

  1. This seems like a mistake. A lot of tourists never have a car in Vegas (we take Uber — note I said Uber not Taxi!). Seems like this will most impact locals who will go to properties with free parking that already offer better perks for play.

    On another note I noticed this past weekend that they are building a ramp to the 3rd or 4th floor of the NYNY garage; I’m guessing to get arena guests in and out faster.

  2. As I get older, the less and less excited I get about going to Vegas. This move by MGM makes the trip even less appealing, as I’m certain other hotels will follow suit soon.

  3. If resort fees weren’t bad enough, now this? Reminds me if Atlantic City back in the day. I’m betting Mlife Platinum and NOIR get free or reduced rate parking.

  4. In Detroit 1 casino charges on game days but you get it waived if you have any player card…the other two never charge for parking. The one in Cleveland which is attached to the Cavilers stadium charges for parking all the time but you get it waived if you gamble for 1/2 hour.

    I could see it for events but it should be free if you are staying. For people who are driving in for the day why not just have a min gamble time in order to get it free otherwise you pay…would make more sense…that is what they should really want anyways.

  5. DAMMIT DUDE! Thats so stupid. Purely a business decision and others will follow, all due to the money from the arena. No different than garage parking fees becoming 20x on conference days.

  6. As a longtime M-Life player, and a frequent visitor to Mandalay Bay, this is a bit of an outrage. Knowing how much I generally play during an average stay, and my elite status with M-Life, it is a bit of a smack in the face to those of us loyal to the properties & the company. Hopefully smarter heads will prevail in this decision, and that appropriate changes are made to fit the need of the guests – and the players involved.

  7. Parking fees??! In Vegas??!!! Insane! When free parking is available everywhere else, why would anyone go to the MGM? Pure greed. The casinos make enough on the gaming – why would they create a policy that will literally drive customers away?

  8. This surprises me a bit. It’s an exceedingly shortsighted move and a painfully obvious money grab. I stopped staying at the Paris when resort fees entered the picture. Sheldon Adelson should use his new newspaper to lecture his neighbors on the evils of taxation. Call it what you like, but effectively this is taxation. If the casino hotels treat customers in this dishonest fashion with all sorts of unneeded charges, how will that inspire trust in their games of chance? This move does nothing to inspire me to return to Las Vegas.

  9. Will this be applied to all hotel occupants even if you’re not utilizing self-parking or valet parking? If so, then that would just be plain robbery.

  10. you assume that Vegas has a “free market.” Nonsense. they have a small handful of powerful, filthy rich tycoons running the show into the ground…. M-life…. as in your money will soon be parted from you.

    I already did my one longggg rant about my one and last visit to vegas last august…. and how I noticed the Spirit Airline model very much at work (which does NOT operate thankfully in most of the hotel industry) That is, you may get low-balled into a base room, if you didn’t get baited and switched …. but then from the moment you set foot in the casino floor (ahem, the hotel), you’re facing a non-stop barrage of sales pitches and cost traps.

    Don’t drink the bottled water, the crackers, or even the coffee in your room. And even if you don’t touch it, good chance you’ll get billed for it anyway.

    Yes, we much despised our visit to Vegas…. only redeeming virtue there would be my ole college wing-mate David Osborne at the Bellagio — and he goes awol every August.

    • ps, for the uninitiated, a literal final example — parting injury added to the insults at one of the M-Life take-your-money machines: they wanted to charge me $5.00 to print out my boarding pass. (and no, that ain’t done anywhere else either — only in Vegas. PS, the one thing they didn’t get from me was a dime in their omnipresent slot machines)

      • Well Aoniumo, honestly, who cares about the nasty ass coffee in your room right?!

        When you come over the lake and visit please NEVER drink that shit. Think about how often and who cleans those coffee makers and how often it just sits there with nasty residue crap still left over. Its an orgy pool of bacteria and death. Never touch that crap man. Thats like using a shared community tooth brush and community condom. Do you actually want to use that?? cmon.

        Order room service. Also, some people may think to clean it with hotel sink water. ARE YOU CRAZY!? You think hotel pipes from the 1800s carry nice nice nice potable water to your room. Washing your hands and showering is honestly the max use. Never drink it.

    • Your assertions are definitely spot on. The Vegas machine is designed to get your money one way or the other. By “free market” I am referring to the resort fee scenario.

      Caesar’s Entertainment resisted resort fees as long as they could. They also own a significant amount of properties on the Strip so Vegas was split about 50/50. What they found was that the lower “room rate” of the resort fee properties killed their room occupancy rates. Many consumers only looked at the rate and thus MGM won that battle and all of the other casions fell in line.

      We will see if consumers pay attention to where there is free parking and make their decisions accordingly. As I mentioned in the article I don’t have high hopes.

  11. Folks, Vegas is still great, just park at a neighbor casino, but please, keep coming, playing and paying — if you don’t, we natives may need to start paying a state income tax.

    Likely a future tip: match your Hyatt Diamond to M-life plat, then you probably won’t need to pay for M-life parking.

  12. I say boycott MGM casinos…the resort fees are a;lready ridiculous and have easily risen by $10 over the last few years. I used to pay $18 for the resort fee at NewYork New York, now its $30 ..for what ? a free newspaper and some other stuff no one reallywould want anyway ? Lets take our $ elsewhere and show them what they can do with their resort fee..spread the word !!

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