Resort fees, those mysterious charges that casinos slyly add onto your hotel room bill, are going up again in Las Vegas.

Jim Murren’s MGM to raise resorts fees

Jim Murren, CEO of MGM Resorts, says that his company has lagged behind on resort fees and a hike is needed. But have Las Vegas casino operators become too powerful, to the detriment of the consumer? (Image: Vincent Yu/AP)

Beginning Thursday, March 1, certain MGM Resorts and Station Casinos properties will hike up their resort fees, taking a cue from Caesars Entertainment, which raised its own rates at the beginning of February

The Blackstone Group’s Cosmopolitan, Penn National Gaming’s Tropicana, Golden Entertainment’s Stratosphere, and Brookfield Asset Management’s Hard Rock have also all increased their resort fees this year.

MGM said fees will go up by two bucks, hitting $37 at mid-range resorts, including The Mirage, Mandalay Bay, and the MGM Grand. Luxor and Excalibur will increase their fees from $30 to $35 and Circus Circus will become $30, from their previous $28.

Station’s Red Rock Resort and Green Valley Ranch Resort will see a bump as well, with $35 fees shifting up to $39.

We are lagging the market,” said MGM CEO Jim Murren on an earnings call last week. “Caesars properties have higher resort fees, which is a great change since they started with no resort fees not long ago, but welcome to the party. It is helping overall pricing.”

Helping who is the question: casinos typically charge resorts fees to help cover extra costs, such as high-speed Internet access, workout areas, and pool maintenance.

But this year’s increase is likely in anticipation of higher labor costs as well. Many Las Vegas operators are currently in negotiation with the Culinary Workers Union, which is demanding higher wages and benefits for its workers, and threatening labor disputes if those demands are not met by June 2018.

But Is It Legal?

The big complaint against resort fees is that they are hidden on travel booking sites until the user goes to pay their bill, because sites rank hotels by their room rate price, not their total cost, which includes the daily resort fee tacked on.

The legality of resort fees is currently under review in 46 states. Nevada is not among them.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal noted in a recent story on the topic that although the downtown retro-hipsterized Oasis at Gold Spike and the Strip’s family-oriented Circus Circus came up as the cheapest hotels in Las Vegas on a recent search, in reality, they were not, once resort fees were tacked onto the bill.

No Perking

Las Vegas, it seems, is getting more expensive, while the comps and perks that were once seen as inalienable rights are being curtailed more each year. These used to be paid for by gambling revenue, but fewer people are coming to Vegas to gamble these days.

It seems the writing was on the wall by 2016, when MGM first announced it would scrap free parking at most of its Strip properties.

But according to veteran casino executive Dan Lee, consolidation in the Las Vegas casino market has allowed companies to achieve a scale that is detrimental to competition and the customer.

“If the Strip were more diverse, [parking fees] would never have happened 20 years ago,” Lee told the Las Vegas Review-Journal recently. “If one guy said we are going to charge for parking, somebody else would say ‘OK, fine, come and park at my place for free. My business will go up.’ You now have an oligopoly there.”