How Las Vegas Nickels and Dimes You
Last update: October 2021
Vegas used to be famous for being generous with the freebies. Not any more. As revenues have been declining from fewer visitors, casinos have been looking for ways to squeeze more money out of each visitor—but that just means even fewer visitors, because no one likes to be nickeled and dimed. Here are some recent ways that casinos and hotels are squeezing their guests, and probably shooting themselves in the foot by discouraging return trips.
Every strip hotel, and most of the ones downtown, charges a "Resort fee" of $19 to $45 per night, separate from the room charge. They say the fee gets you things like WiFi and pool access, but that's not really true because you can't opt out of the fee and decline those services. If everyone has to pay the fee (and they do), then there's no way to tie the fee to any amenity at the property.
Las Vegas Jaunt has a list of Vegas resort fees.
Casino hotels now typically charge for parking. Even if you're a guest at the hotel. Keep that in mind before you decide to rent a car.
Paid parking on the strip was debuted by MGM Resorts. (source)
As of Oct. 2021, free parking is still available on the Strip at:
Casino Royale • Circus Circus • Resorts World • Strat • Treasure Island • Tropicana • Venetian/Palazzo • Wynn/Encore
In-room fridge shenanigans
If you're used to having a mini fridge and microwave in your hotel room, you won't get that in Vegas. They don't want you to feed yourself, they want you to spend your money at their pricey restaurants. The hotel might have a fridge stocked with stuff you can buy, but don't plan on emptying it out to put your own stuff in it, because somehow the fridge senses if you've removed something and automatically charges you for it. And if you avail yourself of their offerings, you could be paying up to $8 for a bottle of water.
Policing the "free" drinks
Free drinks for gamblers has been a hallmark of Vegas for decades. Play any game, and before long a cocktail waitress will come around to take your order. (Standard tip is $1.) You could play a penny slot, a penny at a time, slowly, and still drink for free. (I know, I did that as a test.) Well, some casinos are now experimenting with requiring a minimum amount of play to get the free drinks. In those casinos a green light will come on when you've earned your drink, or the machine will spit out a drink voucher. It's not widespread yet, but it could be. It's a buzz-kill, for sure.
Surcharges at restaurants
Several restaurants have added B.S. fees, such as a "Concession and Franchise Fee", which they're not required to charge and which you get nothing of value for paying. (More from Vital Vegas here, here, and here.) Tip: Scrutinize your bill, and ask that any weird charges be removed. They'll generally do it.
One hotel (Artisan) has sneakily added a $3.95 "Utility surcharge" to its bills. What's next, CEO Bonus Surcharge? (more at Vital Vegas)
Ticket processing fees
Sometimes when you buy tickets online there's a "convenience fee" or "processing fee. Well, the High Roller ferris wheel has taken that to a whole new level (no pun intended) (okay, maybe a little), by charging a processing fee when you buy your tickets IN PERSON! (Vital Vegas)
Triple-zero roulette and 6:5 blackjack
The casinos are tightening up the games, making it harder for players to win, and increasing the average loss per hour. First they changed the payout on naturals on blackjack from 3:2 to 6:5, then they added a third green slot to the roulette wheel. For blackjack, that makes it three times worse for the player, and for roulette, 50% worse.
3:2 blackjack and normal roulette are still available, but
often only in the high limit rooms. If you're not a
high roller, skip the strip and head downtown or to a locals casino
like Orleans or Gold Coast which still offer good games with low