MGM Resorts Announces $90 Million Parking Overhaul, New Parking Fees

After months of speculation (and a good deal of whining) about parking capacity for the new Las Vegas Arena, MGM Resorts has announced it will invest $90 million to expand its capacity and parking infrastructure.

The company will build a new $54-million, 3,000-space parking structure near the northwest corner of the Excalibur Hotel that will “absorb further visitor growth and enhance the experience of attendees of events at nearby resorts and entertainment venues,” including the new arena, The Park promenade and the new Monte Carlo Theater.

MGM Resorts parking

MGM Resorts has given with one hand and taken away with the other. You know, Capitalism. Keep reading.

Construction will start in the second quarter of 2016, with completion scheduled in the second quarter of 2017.

The company’s overall effort will involve spending $36 million to improve existing parking facilities. The enhancements will improve accessibility and provide new ways to direct guests to available spaces (think Cosmopolitan’s red and green lights).

Mobile technology will allow guests to check space availability prior to arrival, in real-time.

That’s all good, right?

Well, along with the good news about more parking comes another little gem which may ultimately be a bigger story than the new parking. MGM Resorts’ new parking strategy includes “the implementation of a parking fee program that will introduce a modest fee for customers utilizing valet services or self-park facilities.”

Which pretty much marks the first time a major Las Vegas casino company has come out and said the age of free casino parking in Las Vegas is done. Other Las Vegas companies are sure to follow suit soon.

When asked if they’d follow suit with instituting paid parking, they responded: Cosmopolitan, no. Stations, no. Wynn Resorts is “monitoring the situation.” Caesars Entertainment and Sands, no comment. (So, that’s a “yes.”)

The company says, “Parking fees will be moderate when compared to similar fees in other markets. An overnight guest utilizing a self-park facility will pay $10 or less. Las Vegas locals will be given a grace period for free parking after the program starts and can maintain their free-parking status by enrolling and earning privileges through M life, the company’s customer loyalty program. Non-resident guests can also earn free-parking status through the M life program.”

MGM Resorts parking fee

Kidding aside, Nevada’s casino industry lost $662 million in 2015, and has been in the red for six years. Casino companies have to adjust accordingly. This is that.

MGM Resorts continues to try and make an awkward announcement sound justified, “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.”

Which may all be true, but still doesn’t make the news any less WTF.

Here’s the thing, though: Parking was never “free.” Believing parking is free in Las Vegas is the same as believing “comps” (short for “complimentary”) are free. Vegas comps and freebies have always been a perk of gambling, offset by gambling losses. We pay for free parking just as we pay for everything else, with our play. But here’s the other thing: Casinos aren’t making the bulk of their money from gambling anymore. So, casinos (which are businesses) are adjusting their business strategies to ensure they make money, and when they make money we get new and fun and exciting. The circle of commerce is complete.

The era of loss leaders in Las Vegas is over. We’ll adjust, and party on.

The parking fee program will begin in the second quarter of 2016, although the practice of Las Vegas casinos shooting themselves in the foot began some time ago.

What do you think?

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  • MikeJenkinson

    Well, let’s look at this rationally:

    The vast, vast majority of Vegas visitors arrive by air and get around the strip by taxi, bus, limo or on foot.

    For people like me who have, on occasion, driven 26 hours to Vegas from Canada so as to save several thousand dollars in air fare, the addition of $10 per day for parking is still going to make my total bill less expensive than flying.

    For Americans who live close enough to Vegas that they can drive there with some sort of regularity, sure, the parking fee will be a nuisance.

    However, anything resembling a “luxury” hotel in any major North American city is already charging anywhere from $20 to $50 per day for parking – depending on whether it’s self park or valet.

    So I think that MGM will be able to finesse through a $10 per day parking charge pretty easily, actually, especially if they include free or discounted parking in their M-Life program.

    The bottom line is that most people who book Vegas are looking for THE DEAL on the hotel room and don’t pay attention to the taxes, resort fees, or anything else. Parking will just become one of those “on the bill” nuisances that people will pay for without even really looking.

    • Western Hotel Casino

      This is more of an issue for locals and AZ/CA visitors.

      • Michael James

        Or casino hoppers that rent cars. On one day in our upcoming trip, are plans are (starting at Paris), Caesars Bacchanal Buffet, going to Mandalay to the Shark Reef, South Point for a bowling tournament, Raiding the Rock Vault at the Tropicana, Cosmopolitan for a nightcap Verbena, then back to Paris. If each charged $10 for parking, that’s $60 in a day. Multiply that by five days….

        • OrindaSucks

          With just a bit of planning and (God forbid) some walking, you could park in 2 places and do all that… Lazy entitled people is one of the problems here.

          • Michael James

            Not if there are age or mobility issues.

            But that’s OK, sit in judgement. In the end, God will make his judgement, too.

          • OrindaSucks

            Too bad that God is imaginary. But, even if (s)he was real, why would (s)he be making any judgements on the availability of free parking in Vegas?

  • overloadinco

    I would have expected something about hotel guests receiving free parking in the MGM lot.
    Also, seems weird to build it on the Excalibur side of Tropicana Blvd. There seems to be as much room on the NY,NY side, closer to the arena.

  • Jokersmile

    Stock holders demand performance and this will patch some holes in the gaming numbers.

  • Nate

    So I just got back from Vegas this afternoon and we are no longer allowed to use the bathroom for free in Las Vegas MGM casinos (3 visits per day) and complementary 2 Ply available for Pearl Tier and above Mlife Club members and free unlimited re-entry for Gold and above members.

    Unparalleled was the enhancement in my experience of using the restroom when having to swipe my players card to activate my free restroom privileges. Feeling like a High Roller using my Gold Mlife card for free entry into the restroom; I was quickly reduced back to pleeb status when I am next in line to use the toilet, only to have a Platinum or NOIR member (it all happened so fast I don’t remember which it was) jump the line with their premium Restroom Experience Enhancement privileges. Waltzing into the stall and leaving me there clenching my cheeks, as well as my teeth.

    The slope is slippery and we are quickly sliding down it y’all.

    • Misslaydj

      Hilarious about the bathroom

  • Bill B

    I can’t see the problem. In the UK we pay to park everywhere, Whether it’s town centre parking, out of town, park n ride, shopping malls, we even have to pay to park in Hospitals! Patients & visitors alike.
    So paying to use a car park seems normal.

    • JSH

      I’ve been to casinos in several states and several cities within Nevada. Only one place (Central City in Colorado) charged to park. Nowhere else.

    • Misslaydj

      park for hospitals?? really

      • Bill B

        Yes, sadly & it’s very expensive, like $1.50 per hour at least.
        The authorities attempt to justify this by saying ” free hospital parking would encourage commuters to park all day & occupy all the spaces” Which is a bogus argument

        • We’re not liking this Vegas surcharge at all.

    • FYMYAWF

      Have to agree.

      I live in San Francisco and paying for parking (or paying to get your car out of the tow yard) is a way of life here.

      I always fly into LV so no skin off my butt here, and I imagine that most out-of-towners probably won’t balk at another $10 a day in an already expensive town, but I can see how this would hurt locals the most.

      • Yeah, there’s going to be a lot of skinned butts.

  • James Ferguson

    I will not adjust and party on. The illusion of getting something for nothing with the small chance of actually winning money too is what hooked me on Vegas. Of course, I usually lost more than enough to cover those things, but the illusion kept me coming back. The magic is gone now and I’m in no mood to return.

  • For years, Las Vegas has been my go-to getaway destination because I felt like I was getting a good value. I don’t really feel it anymore. Downtown still feels like they want me to come; the Strip doesn’t care about me, just separating me from my money as fast as possible.

    There’s evidence of this in the quotes provided from MGM Resorts. They referred to the people who visit their hotels as “customers”. In the hospitality industry, that’s a HUGE no-no. They are guests.

    It pains me to say it, but it’s time for me to consider other vacation options.

  • Alex

    While I’m sure a few people will give up on Vegas over another fee, I firmly believe that the majority will indeed “adjust, and party on”. For proof, simply look at what happened with resort fees.

    Most people despise resort fees. When they came to Vegas, people made threats and said they wouldn’t ever pay them. I guess the hotels did a phenomenal job of finding people to replace those boycotters with brand new visitors because 2014 was the busiest year ever with over 41 million visitors. (Of course, what really happened was that people rarely follow through on a boycott of this nature.)

    Although final numbers are not available for 2015, there were 39,083,448 total visitors through the end of November. That 11-month total bests the year-end total of 36 of the past 40 years. (Years with more than 39 million visitors were 2007, 2012, 2013, and 2014.) Once December gets added to 2015, I’m betting it will become the busiest year ever. In fact, I think 2015 will beat previous years by at 500k visitors.

    My point is that if people aren’t balking at a $30/night resort fee, I doubt an additional $10 is going to matter much.

    FYI: All stats are courtesy of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority website.

    • JSH

      People DO balk at the resort fee, and pay it with their teeth clenched. Parking is another aggravation. Why the casinos want their customers aggravated before they ever enter the casino is beyond me. Locals are especially upset.

      • Alex

        But the point is that they are still going and staying at those hotels.
        I don’t want people thinking I approve. In fact, I find resort fee rather deplorable. (Far worse than parking fees, as they are not optional.) I’m just presenting the facts that essentially show that aggravating your customers/guests doesn’t seem to matter much.
        Unless some sort of legislation comes about, resort fees will simply become the new normal. Twenty years from now, no one will fret much because that’s just how it is.

        • Misslaydj

          If you casino hop like my husband and i that 10 bucks turns into 30-40 a day. we eat, c shows, shop, party at day and night clubs. no more mirage for me i guess it will be casino royale

  • Bouldersteve

    Mirage will be hurt the most because its the only MGM property on that part of the strip.Too many other hotels around it that do not charge for parking so many Mirage customers may go elsewhere.MGM has a monopoly on the south strip so customer do not have much choice in that area.

  • Misslaydj

    My husband and I are avid casino hoppers from shows, shopping, day and nightclubs. This is horrible. We do things off the strip too in summlerlin etc too

    • Agreed. It’ll hurt me, too, and this blog, as I tend to hit multiple resorts tracking down stories and new venues. Oh, well.

      • Misslaydj

        maybe you can get a pass for the blog. I would hate to see this blog dissipate because of this.

        • Yeah, it did occur to me that certain coverage would dip. I tend to pop in at several casinos to check out venues, but if the parking fees are annoying enough, I suspect I wouldn’t do that as much. Thanks for the kind words!

  • Todd Sterling

    Las Vegas once again trying to squeeze every last dime they can out of the people they value so much. I don’t drive in Las Vegas but it still makes me mad that the casinos forget the common working man. I just don’t understand, and want to know when enough is enough. Just like the stupid resort fee. Looks like they will keep adding fees until people stop going.

    • There will be a tipping point, but this won’t be it. Not sure what it’ll be, but they need to think about the big picture.