Casinos Sending Surveys to Figure Out Why You’re So Annoyed With Vegas

The world’s two biggest casino companies, Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts, are sending surveys to customers to determine why they’re displeased with Las Vegas and visiting less often.

We know why, but don’t want to ruin the suspense.

The surveys are telling in both their timing and substance.

Here’s a section of the survey from Caesars Entertainment, sent to us by Darrell V.

Caesars survey

Spoiler alert: Darrell sort of nailed it.

The timing? Casino earnings and stock values are down significantly, and many believe the situation’s going from bad to worse.

The substance? “Where the hell have you been?”

Other questions in the surveys try to get at why travel patterns have changed.

Caesars survey

Just a hunch, but the “unreasonable resort fees” thing probably gets a consistent ranking of “WTF.”

In another section of the survey, the company asks what would have to happen to get a guest back.

Caesars survey

Surveys are important because not every business involves interaction with customers every day. Every single day.

We got a weird feeling when we read that survey question. It sort of triggered memories of ex-girlfriends asking what they’d have to do in order to get back together.

The problem is when you’re at that point, it’s too late. You weren’t vibing, cues were missed and it’s nearly impossible to recapture that spark.

But that’s what Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts are trying to do, apparently.

Park MGM, an MGM Resorts casino, sent out a similar survey, as did other casinos in the MGM Resorts family. Thanks to Brent E. for passing it along to us.

In it, the company flat-out asks if the customer thinks Las Vegas is changing for better or worse.

Park MGM survey

Better late than never on the surveys, probably.

These surveys are remarkable in that 1) the companies seem to be aware visitor perceptions are changing, 2) it’s taken them so long to become aware of that fact.

See, people who interact with Vegas visitors have known for some time they’re visiting less often.

While there are a number of reasons for this, there’s one we hear over and over again: “Las Vegas is nickel-and-diming us, and we’re not going to take it any more.”

Even devoted fans of Las Vegas cite a litany of fees and irksome business practices they say is causing them to visit less often.

Resort fees.

Parking fees.

CNF fees.

Venue fees.

Convenience fees.

Processing fees.

Wait for it.

Tap water fees.

The list is seemingly endless. And don’t get us started about drink monitoring and swapping out liquor brands for knock-offs.

Dick's Last Resort water charge

We are not making this up. Thanks to Sam N. for sending his our way.

Until recently, casino companies barely acknowledged nickel-and-diming could be a factor in revenue and occupancy declines, despite an avalanche of concern we see every day on social media.

It seems the casinos weren’t listening.

Well, they’re listening now.

As we said, there are a number of reasons Vegas seems to be at a crossroads.

For example, there’s something called “commoditization.” It’s defined as “the process by which goods that have economic value and are distinguishable in terms of attributes (uniqueness or brand) end up becoming simple commodities in the eyes of the market or consumers.” You
go, Wikipedia.

In human terms, it means legal gambling is everywhere now, rather than Las Vegas having a virtual monopoly.

The irony of all this is Las Vegas is in a slump when the overall economy is booming. You can bet this is an ongoing source of frustration and embarrassment among casino executives.

Las Vegas CNF fee

Concession fees are some of our least favorite, ever. It’s a fee for literally nothing.

What’s the solution?

First, listen.

Casino companies shouldn’t need surveys to understand what’s frustrating their customers. Their customers are online all day every day, not to mention in their casinos, sharing their concerns.

Second, provide value.

This is a tricky one, because in may ways, Las Vegas provides incredible value. Compare the cost of a hotel room in Las Vegas to those in other cities, and the contrast is dramatic.

Despite that, the value isn’t the focus for visitors or what they remember or share with friends. It’s their anger about resort fees, the exact opposite of value.

Vegas is in the middle of an image crisis.

It’s also suffering from a comparison to itself. Specifically, a comparison to its past self, the one where gambling paid for everything so everything appeared to be cheap or free.

Now, casinos have to get smart about how they make money.

They have to roll back paid parking. They have to get rid of resort fees, or at least stop calling them that and just include them in the cost of a room. They have to dump triple zero roulette and 6-to-5 blackjack.

Triple zero roulette

It’s not fun and it’s not funny.

Casinos can’t stop there. They have to wrangle their restaurant and show partners and insist they stop jacking up nonsense convenience fees and moronic CNF charges. Why? Because they’re a reflection on the casinos and Las Vegas itself.

And as great as Las Vegas is, people will stop coming. Many tell us they already have.

Visitors are willing to pay for great experiences, but they won’t tolerate feeling ripped off. They demand value, and Las Vegas has to make a concerted, coordinated, committed effort to provide it again.

Update (9/27/18): Strip gambling revenue was down more than 12% year-over-year in August 2018. It was down in July as well. Trust us, they’re listening.

73 thoughts on “Casinos Sending Surveys to Figure Out Why You’re So Annoyed With Vegas

  1. Boulder Steve

    It will interesting to see if the industry releases the results. I doubt it because it will just confirm what they already know.They have to make changes that will affect the bottom line in the short term but be benetifital in the long term Corporations are always looking at those quarterly earnings. The fact that casino gambling is everywhere a reason to give more value not less to get people to make the trip.

    1. Michael R King

      I totally agree with everything that has been said.Im headed there in 3 weeks hope it changes soon or I may stop going. I have been going for 30 yrs.

    2. Davehat

      These are my two pet peeves:

      – Parking fees

      – the Live Entertainment Tax passed by Nevada that adds ~10 dollars to every nightclub ticket I buy. They were already collecting sales tax, so why add a second tax? Greedy politicians


  2. Robin

    I’m exactly the person the “new” Vegas has driven away. I used to fly in 2-3 times a year and stay 3-4 nights. The up-scaling (e.g. over-charging) at Vegas hotels, restaurants, attractions is the main reason I now stay away. The “real” hotel cost is not cheap (or even average priced) anymore. The $8 beers, and $20 burgers are expensive even for San Francisco… The boring transformation of the Monte Carlo into the expensive and “upscale” MGM Park is the perfect example of everything not to do: No more wave pool, lazy river, or affordable food court or room rates. The interior and overall vibe are so boring and nondescript that it may as well be a medical facility. As Trump would put it, “sad”…

      1. Andy

        I seriously doubt most people here care about traffic or even a free buffet. But hey if you rather bend over for the casinos paying every fee imaginable so be it.

  3. Darrell V

    My response to the question of what can they do to win me back was essentially cut the resort fees and charging us for every little thing under the sun. It honestly makes you wonder when they are going to start charging you for breathing the smokey casino air. By them forcing me to pay for services I don’t want, I don’t need and I didn’t ask for, it is taking money out of my hands to spend elsewhere. With reasonable rates, they will still get that extra money from me, but it will be through gambling, drinks, food, drinks, entertainment, drinks, shopping and did I mention drinks? Instead I am being forced to pay that extra money to pay for the ability to make local phone calls. You know, the phone calls I can make with my own phone.

    I used to make anywhere from 5-7 trips to Vegas in a year. I live in Minnesota, so it’s not like I can just hop in the car and drive there. I’ve been out once this year and that was for a concert in March. I don’t have a trip planned for the foreseeable future. I am a Working Joe. I am far from wealthy. But I was a loyal customer. I understand things change. I also understand in the grand scheme of things, Vegas is still a bargain compared to a lot of places I could vacation. I just don’t like the fact I am being forced to pay for things I don’t want/need/or didn’t asked for. I proposed to my wife in Vegas. We were married in Vegas. We have discussed making the move there. The city is a special place to us. We will continue to come, but it won’t be as often until something changes, which makes me sad and angry.

    1. Darrell V

      I don’t want to completely grumble. I still love everything about Vegas. I have just as much fun now than I did when I first started going 15 years ago. Every trip is a fun, unique, exciting experience. I guess that’s what frustrates me about all of this.

  4. Scott

    I will echo the above statements. Resort fees, no drinks playing video poker, $500 minimum for a beer in the sports book, parking fees, resort fees, 6/5 blackjack, craps odds @3-4-5 and not 10x or 20x, resort fees, continuous shuffle blackjack, resort fees, and did I mention RESORT FEES?

    I was completely turned off when I received the letter from Harrahs/Ceasers stating their customers were “demanding” resort fees. I have not stayed another night in any of their properties since. I am not sure if I have even spent $1 since. I was staying at Bally’s or the Rio 4-6 times a year before the letter. I went back to MGM properties afterward because if I’m being ripped off I at least want a clean safe hotel.

  5. Frank Kimble

    Typical Moran’s running the casinos thinking people are stupid to keep paying these sleezey fee. How’s that working for you now? People will find another place to party. Drinks at the Casio pools run 25 dollars for plastic cup with a straw. Please….I live there and quit going to casinos a year ago. Parking is 20 dollar a day on top of resort fees. They do not give back to customers. Customer service in casinos is at its lowest level. It’s all about give me your money and nothing in return. People have wised up not worth the poor customer service and high drink prices. Food is terrible and way over priced. Shows are a joke 200 -400 dollars for a good seat NOT……

  6. Gill

    For a few years now the Strip Hotels have been screaming “If you’re not a high roller or someone who will pay hundreds of dollars for bottle service we don’t WANT you!” Well, they got what they wanted, except their weren’t enough high rollers or young idiots to make up for the thousands of people they drove away.

    They now know that but good luck to any exec who is willing to tell their corporate masters that they need to ROLLBACK some fees and prices.

    Yeah, good luck to them..

  7. Patricia Corwin

    Stop with the never-ending nickel-and-diming of your customer base. If it is so necessary to charge resort fees, why not just add them into the cost of the room, instead of breaking them out separately and infuriating those of us who actually pay attention to all the additional costs. When the resort fees and taxes add up to more than the room charge, there’s something wrong with that. Then, charging outrageous fees for parking on top of everything else, well, it just gives me all the more reason not to visit a Strip-based casino. I just recently relocated to Vegas after many years of traveling 1-2 times per year, but I don’t see myself visiting the Strip any more than I did when I lived 2000 miles away. Bring back some of the kitsch that keeps disappearing — you know, the stuff that made Vegas fun? Remember? We haven’t forgotten, but apparently, a lot of casino executives have.

  8. Steve

    Some great comments on here, valid too. We come from England, only once a year but stay 3 weeks. It’s a contant battle to get bang for your buck, the exchange rate is currently killing us.
    Along with resort fees, $9 beers (Excalibur floor) and $25 for 90 minutes parking in Plaza downtown we’re having to reassess our options.
    Such a shame…

    1. Vegas Insight

      It kills me that enough people don’t care to the point that casinos can get away with selling a cheap bottled beer for $9 on the floor. If you had to pay $216 for a case of beer at the liquor store, you’d never drink again, yet $9/beer is not offensive inside a casino.

    2. Sue Ellen

      Which is why this Vegas local quit going to Europe years ago. The overvalued euro. And when I found out the whole Euro dallar amount was based on fraud, it was over. There are plenty of places in the world I can go wiht otu being ripped off. I think of the jewelry store in Greece that had no shame in her over priced gold items. I walked out and wallked away in 2008, never to return.
      Pricing her items by what cruise ship was docked, I saw her look out the window. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one she did this to. Now betting she is out of business. Greed puts her there.

  9. Vegas Insight

    It was not exactly an epiphany, but it finally made sense to me a few years ago. Gambling isn’t unique to Vegas, and it’s a different world. In the 80s I remember what a big deal it was for my aunts/uncles to go on a trip to Vegas. You couldn’t play blackjack anywhere in the Midwest, so slots, roulette, craps and cards were all a big treat. Those aunts/uncles are older, but they still travel. Occasionally a couple will visit Vegas, but not very often. A night at the casino might happen during a long weekend in northern Minnesota, who needs to go to Vegas for that any more.

    I guess I’m lucky, I started going to Vegas in Jan. 1997, when it was reasonable to stay on the strip, when you didn’t have to work so hard to find a decent deal on an unfancy meal. I made a rare cameo at MGM in August, as well as other strip casinos. I bought a bottle of Coke on the casino floor because I was too thirsty to wait until I stumbled across a Walgreen’s. It was $5 for the privilege of buying a Coke from a mini-mart on the casino floor. That was the last favor I asked MGM for.

    Thankfully I started finding other ways to enjoy Vegas circa Nov. 2009. It was dumb luck, but it started my migration away from the strip, and I’m still finding enough value in Vegas to keep coming back. If downtown ever screws that up, I’m doomed. (I also stay off strip these days, as a rental car is essential for my Vegas vacation.)

    The cost of everything is higher in 2018 than it was in 1997, I get that. But I doubt the big two are ever going to offer me enough economic incentive to come back. Too many things would have to happen, it’s unrealistic. And I’m not young or wealthy enough for them to care.

  10. Ryan Wolfe

    Restaurants and drinks tend to be too overpriced making a trip much tougher to come by these days. Eats into the budget too much

  11. Joanne Southwick

    I used the spa at Bellagio and they charged 20% tip, 18% went to the provider and 2% went to the Bellagio. I found that VERY insulting. I do think they should have their hands in the tip money. They can’t charge more for services so they got it from the tips. Still burns me up.

    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      Thank you! I’m still shaking my head that it’s taken them so long to start listening to customers about these issues.

    1. Bryant

      Its called don’t tip on tax which is etiquette. I dont tip on tax, only on the cost of the meal. If you tip on the final taxed amount you are overtipping which might be ok for you but you, but you are giving money away.

    2. Melissa

      ? it’s only $0.02 but if they’re overcharging on every bill, which I’m sure they are, imagine the profits for a year. ON TOP OF the ridiculous pricing and charging for things like a water glass!!!

  12. Dave

    Great post. Used to go to Vegas a few times a year and loved it. Always found a decent room, dropped a few grand gambling and took in a couple of shows.

    All has changed slowly but surely.

    It starts with resort fees that give zero value for $35-$40 a night. Now there is premium internet on top of that. Add the parking fees, crappy odds, declining comps, and unfriendly casino staff and you start to feel unwanted.

    Now add show prices that are getting crazy and very expensive mediocre food. Takes away from gambling funds and some of the difference of Vegas.

    I get that gambling revenues are slipping. The reaction has been to discourage gambling by changing odds in favor of the house and getting more revenue from the property. That in turn discourages gambling. Duh!

    The resort execs for some reason think the public doesn’t notice all the fees. Here is a free tip. If you charge it all the time, it’s not a fee. It’s the price of the goods. Increase room rates and drop the stupid fees.

    1. Housefunker

      “I get that gambling revenues are slipping. The reaction has been to discourage gambling by changing odds in favor of the house and getting more revenue from the property. That in turn discourages gambling. Duh!”

      Best paragraph I’ve read today.

  13. Ken

    I hope the casinos downtown get the message. I left the strip several years ago and went downtown because of 6/5 BJ and resort fees. Now resort fees are downtown but i can still park free. If they start charging for parking or go to 6/5 and raise fees, i’m out of there. The Casinos in Palm Springs have better BJ rules and payout. Downtown can still fix “it” before people begin to migrate away.

  14. Joyce Arnette

    We dont go anymore because we never win!! We used to live to go and spend our money. Buy often, we would win. No more. We dont win ANYTHING . So why drive 5 hours and grumble all the drive back about not winning, when we can go to a local casino and lose money there. And it’s not a 5 hour drive.

  15. Vegas Travel News

    This is news to us. These surveys are at least an indication that the big players in the Vegas resort community might finally be listening to their consumers.

    As someone who deals with Vegas tourists from around the world on a daily basis, I agree with what you are saying. My readers have made it clear that they are fed up with the various fees that have been added over the last few years. Many have indicated that they already have reduced or plan to reduce their visits to Vegas. Others have said they may visit the same amount, but stay fewer days and spend less money during their stay.

    I hope it is not too late to turn things around. As the say, “time will tell”.

    Vegas Travel News

    1. David wilson

      Michael I have to echo everyone’s comments above and hope in your role you can effect some changes. I go
      To Vegas 1-2 times a month for work. I have a lot of family who also go for vacation. We all agree, the casinos don’t pay and they are empty no one seems to be playing.
      The fees are crazy and parking? Really? It used to be a wash for
      My company to book me at either Cesar’s or MGM resorts but even with comped rooms there are fees and the machines don’t pay and the Buffett’s are no good (unless you want to pay $50-60 at the Wynn) . So I lrefer to stay at Hilton Home 2. The old Vegas is gone it’s all about squeezing every nickel out and we as consumers see this. The casinos need to give us a reason to not stay home and go to Indian casinos. My go to casino is Red Wind in Yelm, WA, where jackpots are announced constantly overhead and the place is jammed packed. I still love going to Vegas but when a casino lists $30 per night for a room and the resort fees and parking add up to $80 a night ( and a small dog adds $85/night -Ballys ) I prefer
      To stay off strip. The cost of Vegas is too high it’s not a good value and as casinos lose revenue they add fees to everything else making it worse it’s a sad vicious cycle. I hope the casino execs hire some consultants and make some changes. As for this Vegas fan, no more strip staying for me.

  16. Jason

    These maroons just can’t handle the fact that they’ve wasted a great deal of effort courting a generation that doesn’t gamble as much (if at all) and would rather go to EDM day/nightclubs already liquored up from the store bought alcohol they have in their room. Maybe some outside the box thinking is required here to increase gambling participation but being cutting costs and raising fees is not the long term solution.

    The vast majority of people come to Vegas with the understanding that they will not win when it comes to gambling. But instead of just letting us leave with lighter wallets and, hopefully good memories, the casinos are kicking us while we’re down and try to take the rest of our money with ridiculous fees and curtailed gambling perks.

  17. Big "E"

    I’m sure the blog writers could validate the history of Vegas resort fees better than a quick Google search (as long as the booze hasn’t killed the brain cells), but …

    Wasn’t it Station Casinos that introduced resort fees so they could appear to charge lower room rates than the other big boys and still get the revenue? Then the MGM execs, “hey that’s clever, we should do that, too” and then Caesar’s mocked them for it. Then execs Caesar’s capitulated (er, saw the wisdom), too. Finally downtown said, “Me too, please”, not wanting to have their clients to feel like they are missing on the full Vegas experience.

    It was pretty easy to annoyingly shrug the fees off when it cost less than the prime rib special ($9.99) at the Victoria Room, knowing if I spent enough time the table, maybe they’d comp me the Prime Rib anyway, offsetting the fee. But the last time I stayed in Vegas, the resort fee was higher than my mid-week room rate and my car rental rate! At least I got something for those two!

    Oh, and now there’s a “resort fee” for the rental car too. Why? Well, “everyone else is doing it”. My hometown charges for parking to 1) encourage turnover for local businesses, 2) encourage commuters to take transit and 3) encourage walking for short trips. Not sure any of those jive with the casino’s business model. Um, how about some mass transit (rail/monorail) from the airport to/along the strip and downtown? More buses? Wider sidewalks? Nope. Just more fees.

    Now, look who’s putting a survey out wondering where did all the nickels and dimes go? Well, you know what, my hometown now has casinos too. I can take the bus there instead of the plane, I don’t have to pay a resort fee for my room or my car and my dollar goes 30% further – haha!

    1. Joyce

      I agree with your assessment. I too can take a bus to a local casino (we have several), no fees, and they all have slot machines that have been tightened up so much its hardly worth going. Just like Vegas.. Maybe I’m off gambling forever.

  18. Robert

    The hotels have to change so much but I think it will not happen. I was the last 8 years, year for year in Las Vegas and the prices and Fees are growing up to the sky. Fees for nothing; the hotel worser from year to year and the prices higher from year to year. I love to stay in Las Vegas but i don’t want robbery by the hotels in my wallet. And the service have to be much more better for the guest, especially for regulars.
    The players clubs reduce from year to year the rewards and promos. For me personally the prices really exaggerated and the service really poorly. I think i don’t come back to Las Vegas until the Hotels will change their price policy and see the guest as what a guest is. If you need some suggestions or want to learn something, you should take the hotels in Thailland as a role model.
    That’s not only for the Hotels the same for the Restaurants!! You order a breakfast for 3.99 $ and wants to have a glass of juice you have to pay for the juice 5 $ and more. Thats a joke.

  19. Richard

    My casino visits have dropped 90%, and my contributions close to 100%

    The experience offered in marketing materials, never shows up in fact. Essentially your left to feel your wallet is trying to survive in a minefield.

    I think this marketing disconnect from great on paper to customer rejection is edemic. Whether airlines, movies, evening out restaurants, shows, cruises etc. the glossy ads and fancy words don”t show up in the actual experience, even a little bit.

    Personally I think the scummy lawyers tossed into the sea should have a VP of marketing under each arm.

  20. Stoney

    Its hard to believe they have to send a survey to find out what went wrong. Are they completely out of touch with reality?

    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      Maybe not completely, but they seem to have a blind spot in this area. Either that, or they honestly don’t know how to address it.

  21. Albert E.

    Not surprised by the high response rate to this blog, and not surprised by the responses. It’s not rocket science, although the casinos want to pretend it is.

  22. Marc

    My wife and I were just in Vegas to see Queen this past Saturday night. We were coming from New York.
    We stayed at a MGM property. We were given a great price for one of the nights. The only problem???
    When we checked out that great price we got, it wasn’t a great rate anymore, because of that famous “convenience fee” So a 45 dollar room ended up being just under a 100. Needless to say I won’t return as often as we used to, unless they start listening to the people that made them all that money.

  23. Coop

    Just got back. Mirage and Downtown Grand both sent a very thorough survey of my opinion of this stay in Vegas. Mirage’s survey asked more about my overall value and experience in Vegas this trip vs previous trips. They sure seem to care. But other than free flowing booze I noticed no discounts or fee reductions.

  24. William Brash

    I agree with all the complaints re extra charges & penny pinching that leaves us feeling that we are not in any way valued customers
    It’s only my opinion but since we first started visiting in 2001 I have seen more & more children, people with dogs, empty casinos & full streets.
    Vegas visitors used to be gamblers, who caught a show or two, had nice meals & maybe shopped a little. In 2001 you had to look for a child, In 2018 strollers are a fact of life & need to be dodged.
    Now there are so many visitors who bring the family, &/or pet, don’t gamble or gamble very little. These folks are prohibited from using certain amenities, as they are not for children. Let’s be honest, in the evening & night time, The Strip & Fremont are not for children. These families spend less than the earlier gamblers.
    Hotel casinos could offer cheap rooms when their guests all gambled & casinos use to be run by casino professionals. Now hotel casinos are controlled by the penny pinching accountants.
    Sad fact is, life is full of change we need to accept & embrace it, or go somewhere else.
    We’ll be there Monday to “drink & gamble lots” as my grandson says.

  25. Robert Barazutti

    Triple Zero is so disgusting! And also the 6:5 Blackjack. All over Europe you will find single zero Roulette and 3:2 Blackjack (mostly with automatic shuffling machines).

    Also: The Ressort Fees must stop. As a Platinum member I‘ve a lot of comped rooms, but I still hav eto pay taxes and Ressort Fees (together 50-60 bucks), that‘s not comped!

  26. Rooster

    I used to go to Vegas 3 times a year. Now I go once. Love me some Vegas, but it’s just not as good a value as other vacations, now that they’ve tried to price themselves like world class destinations. At the end of the day, Vegas, while fun, is a bunch of hotels in the middle of the desert. There’s no oceans, skiing, etc.

    And when I say “value”, I’m not looking for $2.99 buffets. I’m perfectly ok spending money on my vacation, as long as I get to spend it on something I’ll enjoy.

    This year I took some of the money I would have spent in Vegas, and went to Turks and Caicos instead. I still spent the same $5k I would have spent in Vegas, but not once did anyone charge me a resort fee, convenience fee, parking fee, etc. I got to spend my money on things that for me added value. A resort fee adds zero value for me.

  27. Chris


    I agree with all of you, even those of you who are somewhat incoherent. Everything that the Strip is doing wrong makes me appreciate what Downtown is (mostly) doing right. I organized a trip this summer for 8 of us, and we stayed at the Downtown Grand. They are charging a resort fee, but that’s just about the only thing they’re doing wrong. We spent 2 days by the pool–no rental fee for our cabana just an F&B minimum. The service up there, provided by Nick (don’t worry, Nick was a chick not a dude) was awesome–friendly, fast. Cocktail service in the casino was as good as I’ve ever experienced in Las Vegas, and I’ve been coming for 25 years. And while not all the video poker was full-pay, there was enough there for those willing to find it.

    Most of the rest of Downtown is doing it right. Although resort fees have seeped in like an unwanted case of bedbugs (yes, that was a dig at you, Imperial Palace!), Downtown remains a place where you can have the Las Vegas experience without the New Las Vegas Bullshit.

    We need to (continue to) vote with our feet and our wallets!

  28. William Wingo

    I’ve been going to Las Vegas since 1969. Looking back, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that the experience has been deteriorating for that entire time–although considerably faster in recent years.

    I’ve told this story before, but it’s been a while so I’ll tell it again from the top. Some years ago we spent an entire afternoon in a downtown casino playing in a poker tournament and also some video poker. On the way out of the parking deck, the following conversation took place:

    Parking guy: That will be $4.50, sir.
    Me: But I just gave you the validated parking ticket.
    Him: Yes sir, but that’s only good for two hours. You were here four-and-one-half hours.
    Me: But we were in your casino the entire time.
    Him: I don’t know anything about that. It’s still $4.50.
    Me: All right, here.
    Him: Thank you, sir. Have a good trip and come back soon.
    Me: Oh, count on it….

    You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression–or a last one. That was five or six years ago and we have not been anywhere downtown since. We did go down once to check on the Las Vegas Club demolition, but didn’t get out of the car. If it costs $25 for 90 minutes parking at the Plaza (according to Steve), it looks like I haven’t missed much.

    (Go ahead, call me a cheap b______. Feel better now?)

    Similarly, I haven’t stopped anywhere on the Strip in several years. That must be why I didn’t get any of these surveys. Last time was a poker tournament that turned out to be somewhat less than awe-inspiring. This was before parking fees; but we did get to dodge timeshare hawkers both coming and going.

    We still get to Las Vegas a few times per year, especially for the WSOP, but these days we stay off-strip. Even this is getting tougher. Recently one large casino group, which includes two of our long-time favorite places, has completely restructured their entire players’ club rewards program. Details are still unfolding, but the consensus so far is “not good.” In the last few years it’s been no problem to get comped, but that may change.

    The latest twist is getting “comped” but still having to pay the resort fee. I haven’t experienced this myself, but it has been mentioned recently on other blogs as well as this one. That’s right up there with the famous oriental “Order of Chastity of the Second Class.” Or as the SNL Church Lady might say: “Now isn’t that special…”

    And since I have never played 6-5 Blackjack or triple-zero Roulette–and never will–I leave those diatribes to others.

    So what can they do to get me back? I think this article and other comments have covered it pretty well. Everyone knows “what it would take.” But will they do it? Not bloody likely, and certainly not any time soon. Until then, we’ll simply go elsewhere.

    So far, we’ve found Laughlin to be a viable alternative, closer and with lots of comp offers and no resort fees except at Harrah’s. Back home, there are several Native American casinos within 40 miles of our house; and lots of sports-bar-league poker even closer. And the California card rooms are only a little further than Las Vegas.

    And if all of them go down the tubes like Las Vegas, I’m prepared to abandon them too.

  29. Daniel

    It amazes me how little the corporations understand the value of a flat rate. If I’m told something is going to be $50 out-the-door, I’m more likely to do that, than something with extra hidden fees that bring it to $40. The value of honest, transparent pricing can go a long way in getting customers to pay more money. Customers want to feel like a business is being honest with them.

    I differ from a lot of the others here by the fact I haven’t reduced the number of times I go to Vegas or the amount I spend. But I do seek out what companies are being the most honest and transparent with their pricing, and spend more money with them. Because I believe that it’s better to reward good business practices, than focus on trying to punish bad ones.

  30. Christopher

    I echo many of the criticisms posted here regarding the resort fees, parking fees (for self-park, no less!), convenience fees for tickets, etc. Same, too with the deterioration of craps odds, 6-5 BJ, 000 roulette, they’ve been grasping at straws to add to their bottom lines at the expense of what made vegas such a cool vacation to begin with: the illusion of a cheap trip paid for by the house edge in the casino.

    My first trip to Vegas was with my grandma, who took me for my 21st. It was a bus trip and we stayed at the Fremont. (Since then, incidentally, Downtown, not the Strip, remains my romanticized image of Vegas.) Back then, $300 lasted me the whole trip: gambling, drinking, eating, tipping… Slot machines had, maybe, 9 to 15 lines that you could select, so it was easy to stretch the bankroll out, even playing nickels. Binions offered $2 blackjack and paid 3-2. The golden gate had $2 craps with 5x odds. And the Las Vegas Club, still sports-themed, had penny slots with TITO tickets long before that became the norm.

    When were these halcyon days, you ask?

    Way back in 1999…

    That doesn’t seem so long ago, to me, but it’s only taken one generation to get to where we are now.

    Yet I don’t think it’s a negative new normal. Vegas, today, seems more capable of delivering on whatever fantasy one comes to town wishing to have than it was back then. Dining is undoubtedly better: numerous high-quality options to fit any budget are everywhere. Nightclubs are larger-than-life. Many of the pools are now social epicenters made for more than just sunbathing. You can drive exotic sports cars at high speeds, shoot machine guns, and zip line between hotel towers. And that’s just a few things…

    In many ways, Vegas has become the adult Disneyland that we always wanted, and that has come with some growing pains. The clientele has changed, and the people running the casinos are constantly trying to adapt. If this questionnaire leads to some rollbacks of poor policies, then bravo to them trying to finally listen to us.

    I’ll end with a suggestion that I haven’t yet seen and would think would be super helpful, though it’s more a political issue than a casino one: please, for the love of god, change the crosswalk system on the strip to one that allows people to cross diagonally. Traffic on the strip is bad enough, but pedestrians chronically block intersections and create an unsafe situation when they’re still in the crosswalks when the left-turn signals turn green and those cars are blocked. A dedicated interval of diagonal pedestrian crossing for every NS/EW car traffic interval could have a huge, positive impact on traffic flow. Cars turning right wouldn’t have to wait for pedestrians to clear the crosswalk since that would be prohibited, the aforementioned left turning vehicles could complete their turns more quickly, and pedestrians, themselves, could reach their destinations more quickly. Plus, it wouldn’t need any additional infrastructure or construction: just restripe the intersection and add the necessary lights/signage. Maybe a few traffic cops for the first six months, until everyone has gotten the hang of the new system.

    Anyway, thanks for your posts, Scott, I greatly enjoy your blog and the podcasts.

  31. Michael Rasmussen

    I know you like to joke about nobody reading your blog, but this was clearly written with a particular audience in mind. Are you aware of/do casino execs read this? I’m curious, as I know that the internet sort of forced the convenience fee and the “race to the bottom” in terms of advertised price vs actual price. When you go to Travelocity and pick the lowest price every time, similar to airlines, hotels have to find a way to recoup the discount somehow. I would love to hear from someone who actually sets rates what the strategy is, and how casinos plan to deal with the backlash against fees vs. the market reality. What I’ve discovered about the airline industry is that customers loathe the fees, but continue to reward the airlines with the lowest price, so I assume the same holds true in the hospitality industry. Book the customer with a below cost rate, and make it up in fees, because that’s the product the customer continues to purchase. I agree it is despicable, but I also think the first hotel to forgo the fees and toss them back into the base rate would take a big ol’ punch to the groin.

    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      Yeah, I’d love to hear from those folks, and sometimes do. They’re all dealing with the issues you mentioned.

  32. Kathleen DeCosmo

    I agree with all of the above. We have been going to Las Vegas for 30 years and always stay Downtown at the Golden Nugget. This pass trip we noticed all the eating deals were basically gone. The worse part is that it is impossible to win or even hang in for a few days. In the past every once in a while friends would come back from Las Vegas saying they actually won, usually in slots. The anticipation of going to Las Vegas and thinking we might get lucky and hit a jackpot was such a motivator. That is all gone. No hope of winning anything and more likely to run out of the gambling money you hoped would last a few days. Add on all of the above and the conclusion is I will take my money and go to an Island, Europe, Florida, new Orleans and have a real vacation. Las Vegas is not worth the long ride anymore.

  33. Steve Bishop

    I know this is going to be an unpopular comment, but here goes…

    I spoke with a British couple early in the week, and as I often do, I asked them about their visit to Las Vegas. They stated that they’ve been coming for two weeks each year for decades, but this will be their last visit. They said Vegas isn’t the same anymore.

    When i asked them how it’s not the same, I expected to hear yet another wistful tale of Rat Pack days or complaints about parking fees or resort fees, etc… Instead, their complaint was about marijuana.

    They said that they get hit up dozens of times each day by low-lifes trying to sell them pot on the streets, and they noted a significant increase in the number and aggressiveness of the homeless not just on the Strip, but elsewhere in the city.

    Like most locals, I live in the house-car-work-car-house bubble, so I’m not exposed to much of this, except in the Smith’s parking lot. But it was a response I didn’t expect.

      1. Coop

        Says no one who got tax refund checks. you know…Sin City and all that. Bothered by homeless? offered drugs? Maybe we all outgrow Sin City and dont like that fact.

    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      That’s an interesting take, and thanks for sharing it. I can safely say I’ve never heard that concern before, and I literally read hundreds (if not thousands) of comments and Tweets each week.

  34. Elizabeth Meadows

    I so agree with your statement about they aren’t a monopoly anymore. They have tons of established competitors much closer to where people live and what do they do to compete; they raise the prices and then act surprised people don’t want to come. Now you can sports bet or soon will be able to in many places so there is another drop coming soon as people don’t need to take a weekend in the big game to come to Vegas. Add to that the fact the average slot play is a 55 year old woman and realize that means the top part of that average is dying of old age and no wonder the market is down. No one expects them to offer the cheap buffets and 99 cent hot dogs of the old Vegas but at least offer one price you can understand not one price with fees, and parking and little green lights to tell you when you can get a drink.

  35. Red

    I commend the corporations for finally asking, but the problem is Vegas has become too corporate like DeNiro laments at the end of Casino. Sure there’s gambling at home. Yet, it was never as glamorous or fun as going to Vegas. I just came back, and I’m not sure Vegas is so special anymore that I’ll be going back. I loved the gambling, the crowds at the tables, the beautiful cocktail waitresses always there with a drink when you needed one. I guess Vegas is having an identity crisis. Does it want to be a gambler’s paradise that can’t be replicated elsewhere, run by old time casino moguls, or does it want to be a desert Disneyland? Fees and generally high prices for nothing special – maybe these corporations need to get their costs under control. I wish they had a hotel and casino that catered to the gambling crowd. No children running around, good gambling, food, entertainment and rooms. Who needs a restaurant with a picture of a celebrity chef that isn’t cooking in the back? Bring back the glamor, fun, some of the naughty, and treating you like a king. I will go back to Vegas for that!

  36. Jeff in OKC

    I wish that American business leadership would be smart enough to band together and demand that the FTC or Congress “protect us from ourselves”. All costs associated with items such as airline tickets, rent cars, shows, or hotels MUST have the TOTAL PRICE displayed in the lowest line shown on any page of any text or screen. In today’s age it is possible.
    A business is self-inflicting damage when they create a negative emotion within their customer via pricing claims that are misleading/incomplete at the very beginning of the business transaction. No business wants to be seen as sleazy used car salesmen, but, that is what Resort Fees, etc. do.

    Human nature is blessed with two defining characteristics: Fond Memories and Hope For Tomorrow. Fond Memories lead us to think stuff was always better and less expensive “Back in the day”. I saw one previous comment (very well done) that mentioned their first trip to Las Vegas was with their grandmother in 1999, and $300 would cover their cost for their whole trip Downtown. That 1999 $300 would require $450 in 2018, allowing for inflation. Assuming the 1999 person was around 20 years old, I think a 2018 20 year old could have much the same experience on $450.

    I’m a 60 year old Las Vegas addict. My office is filled with Las Vegas photos and stuff. I watch a lot of old Las Vegas related TV & movie material, both fiction and historical. Something I have begun to pay attention to is casino signage, and it seems that as far back as the 1950s a common thread was 3:2 Blackjack, 10X Craps odds, looser sluts, and food values. Most of the food value prices I see are pretty much aligned with today’s prices (adjusted for inflation).

    You do a great job, Scott. Thanks for your efforts.

  37. Rob

    I used to go to Vegas 4x a year. I go about once a year now.

    The biggest drawback to me is that Vegas Executives especially the MGM CEO (I really dislike him) have disrespected gamblers. I am not a whale by any means but I do love to gamble. How is putting a bunch of color rocks in the middle of desert going to give you more money. Post Modern Art has downsides too you know. They really think trendy hipster things are going to draw gamblers that are 35 and older. Murren is a corporate socialist. Losing money – lets tax something so make it up. A bunch of idiots.

    Currently – They even nickle and dime the gamblers. I used to be a low end gambler, now i gamble pretty hard. More then a decade ago they used to take care of the low end gamblers. For example – a person that drop 500 on a weekend. You go to the players club desk and you ask for a buffet – lady goes sure – here you go. Now everything has an algorithm. There is no human dealings. My sister who is a low end gambler but spends enough to get free comp rooms on certain days has to pay a resort fee. They should remove all resort fees for these type of gamblers. They spend all day gambling – they hardly do anything else. I can talk about this all day.

    The biggest thing is – is that local casinos in many different states are providing better services now. No Resort Fee – no parking fee – come in and its a free for all. Like it used to be in Vegas. I used to drive to Vegas 4x a year from SoCal but now I just go to my local casinos for gambling.

    The Strip Casinos are just a big nuisance now. Parking fees – stupid gate. You have to make sure to stock up on certain beverages before you go to your room. Getting Snacks and so on. Who in their right mind will pay 8 dollars for a bag of nuts at the Aria. Its the principle of it all. Putting bottles of water in your luggage to bring to your room. Everything is just an inconvenience. I rather used the extra money to put inside the machine. They are getting the money anyways but I rather have those devil juices run through me when I do it. Now you have to budget and plan everything accordingly.

    I dont even eat at the strip casinos any more. I drive to all the local restaurants. The food is better and you can have family style meals. I head to spring mountain and get asian food. Or get a bachi burger and sometimes just go to In N Out for a quick burger.

    I guess I am really complaining here – I can go on all day.

    Build another parking structure for Tmobile arena. After that is done – remove all Resort fees and Parking fees – bottom shelf liq is still free. Announce this to the public – its a free for all again. The way Vegas used to be. Go to Vegas without any other added worries and go at it. I know prices are always high in the tourist areas but they need to chill out with the fees. The resort fees bring NO added value. It just a hidden tax in a way to make up for their stupidity.

  38. Rob K.

    As a Canadian who has been going to Vegas for over 30 years now I am finding it harder to come here to the place I love the most. Foremost I have to deal with the dollar difference. At present it costs me 30% more to come to the US due to the differences in the dollar. With all the nickel and diming of fees the resorts are charging I have to be even more selective as to when and where I stay. The food and drink prices make this even more harder to stay on a modest budget and still have enough left over for entertainment (shows and gambling). I really wish they got rid of the resort fees and parking fees. Sometimes I fly to Vegas and other times I like to drive there. The CEO’s need to realize that Vegas is an international destination. I have met people from Australia, England, Germany, South Africa just to name a few. These fees are eventually going to drive international tourism away for Vegas.

  39. Marty

    MGM sues shooting victims, that says enough to me to not give them one penny of my hard earned cash.

    The good ol days of casinos operated by Owners are long gone and totally missed. These are the days when value was ever so present. Today on the strip there is no such thing as value, it seems like the big corporately operated and stock market traded properties compete on who can gouge the guests the most. Personally, we no longer go to the strip as there are much better options for everything off the strip. Im tired of being groped by the big operators on the strip and i know many others who feel the same. Even the country is complicit in the visitors experience on the strip. There are sooo many neferious people walking up and down the strip anymore it doesnt feel safe. The days of the porn peddlers trying to hand you a magazine as the worst of the strip are long gone.

  40. Gigi

    I’ve been going to Vegas for 25 years. I’m now in my mid 60’s. I fell in love with Vegas on my first trip. For a number of years we’d go anywhere from 2 to 5 times. We never wanted to leave so we would end up extending our trip by a day until we finally just started booking longer trips. But the last few years it hasn’t been difficult leaving. We try to overlook all the money gouging because we just want to concentrate on having a good time, but it’s becoming more difficult. When it’s time to leave and we’re looking at the room charges (for comped rooms), it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
    We were loyal Bally’s customers. There was the 22nd Club, 24 hour coffee shop where you could get a $6 bottle of wine at 2:00 AM, bathroom attendants, free lounge music for dancing, the infamous Bally $1.00 Balloon machines – where could usually only get a seat in the wee hours of the morning because they paid, a Player’s Club counter (you now have to go to Paris), and a comped room was exactly that – totally free. If we wanted to visit the South End of the strip, we’d just hop on the free monorail to the MGM. Now you have to pay for the monorail. Also, if there were no cabs, we’d take one of Bally’s limos for approx. $25 to another hotel. The cost cutting is so obvious.
    I play video poker and I HATE feeling like I have to play continuously in order to get more than 1 free glass of wine. I like to pause and talk with a neighbor or a bartender, but mingling is discouraged if you want the next free drink. Just a horrible way to treat your guests. All the bartenders I’ve talked to hate this system also.
    They keep taking away all the benefits. I don’t using the parking garages, but nevertheless, I’m bothered by the fact that they now charge to park. Nickle and diming us to death at every turn.
    In order to get me back more than once a year, the casinos would need to eliminate resort fees and the voucher/green light system for free drinks, and loosen the slots.

  41. Big Sleeze

    This is it:

    “They have to roll back paid parking. They have to get rid of resort fees, or at least stop calling them that and just include them in the cost of a room. They have to dump triple zero roulette and 6-to-5 blackjack.”

    And this de-theming has run its course. Vegas is supposed to be over the top, not just look like any other city.

  42. MrSnarkyPants

    Vegas stopped being fun for me when I had to pay an extra $30/night to sleep in the room, $10/night to park the car, and had to pay $20 for bacon and eggs at breakfast served on paper plates.

    Vegas stopped being fun for me when the Flamingo closed the coffee shop and the ladies who waited on me for close to 20 years were laid off all so Caesar’s could screw the union.

    Vegas stopped being fun for me when I was told I wasn’t betting enough on a slot machine to get a beer, or when $50 evaporated at the blackjack table in less than 10 minutes.

    I’m a low roller. I don’t expect comps. But the paid parking was the last straw for me.

    1. Stoney

      Amen, SnarkyPants, also we can choose between a over priced food court or high priced upscale restaurant where did all of the 24 hour cafes go ?

  43. Mark

    TOP TEN Reasons I Quit Visiting the Strip….
    10. Resort Fees – This one doesn’t bother me as much as most… I’m good at math
    9. Families – Come on people, leave the kids at home
    8. Homeless People – nothing like being depressed on vacation
    7. Crappy Comps – too hard to get and impossible to understand rewards
    6. Fake Blackjack – 6/5 is literally a deal breaker
    5. Horrible Video Poker Odds – which only mean the slots are terrible too
    4. Miserable Dealers – For God’s sake, can’t I just have fun losing my money!
    3. Poor Drink Service – Losing $100 between each “free” drink doesn’t cut it
    2. Weekend California Clubbing Crowd – It’s not okay to be an obnoxious a-hole, just because its Vegas.
    1. High Table Limits – Especially when there’s a dozen dealers without anyone at the tables.

    Like many others, I have reduced my number of annual trips. I only stay off-strip and downtown. And for those of you who say that downtown is that much better… you better start taking notice. It’s going downhill fast for the same reasons as the strip.

  44. Ann Moody

    Favorite Vegas Memories that don’t exist anymore?

    Cheap Imperial Palace, dumpy but couldn’t beat the location.
    99 cent shrimp cocktail
    Overnight buffet at Holiday Inn Boardwalk. Cheap, terrible, dreary, loved it!
    Space Quest Casino
    Liberace Museum
    La Cage in ancient battered showroom at the Riv
    Waving around a twenty at an usher at La Cage to (successfully) get a booth
    Luxor when it was all in on the theme
    Goofy amusement park at MGM Grand
    Being handed alcohol just for sitting in front of a machine and a buck tip
    Walking the strip and seeing casinos, not malls built right to the sidewalks.
    Steak dinners under $10
    Pirate battle at Treasure Island
    Westward Ho umbrella thingies and cheap hot dogs
    Stardust sign

    Today’s LV is not my LV. But what do I know? I only travel 4 times a year.


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