Las Vegas Nickels and Dimes You
Last update: May 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.
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.
Exorbitant prices in the mini fridge
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.
One hotel (Artisan) has sneakily added a $3.95 "Utility surcharge" to its bills. What's next, CEO Bonus Surcharge? (more at VitalVegas)
Used to be that when you got a natural in blackjack, you'd
get paid 3 to 2. (Bet $20, win $30.) But now
every strip casino pays 6 to 5. (But $20, win $24.) It
might not seem like a big difference, but the odds are five times
worse, so you lose five times as much overall on average. It's
hard to blame the casinos for this one, because the old 3:2 game had
such a low house edge, it probably wasn't really profitable to even
offer, and even the new "bad" 6:5 payout means the game is still one
of the best bets in the casino, similar to craps and better than
roulette or baccarat. Also, the high limit rooms (minimum
$100) generally still offer the old 3:2 payout. If you're not
a high roller, skip the strip and head downtown or to a locals
casino like Orleans or Gold Coast.