Resort fees are quite common throughout the hospitality industry. Assuming you stay at a casino resort in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, or elsewhere, you’ll almost assuredly deal with these fees.
Resort fees can be worth as much as 50% of your booking cost. You no doubt hate the thought of paying this much on top of the original bill.
You may even wonder if it’s possible to successfully dispute a resort charge. I’m going to cover more on resort fees and if you can avoid paying them or at least reduce the cost.
Why Do Casinos Charge Resort Fees in the First Place?
The main reason why casinos require resort fees is because the rest of the hospitality industry does so. This trend started in the late 1990s and has only gotten worse in present times.
All hotels offer amenities to some degree—no matter how impressive or unimpressive these extra services may be. An amenity can be as basic as the soaps in the shower to the grand spas featured in Atlantic City and Las Vegas hotels.
Casinos don’t offer these extras for free, though. They expect you to pay for anything you have access to.
If resorts were upfront, they’d simply include these charges in the booking cost. But they use a more-nefarious method of tacking these additional charges on after the fact.
You may initially reserve your casino hotel room for $150. However, your final bill could be worth $200 or more when the resort fee is added.
Simply put, casinos want to make the booking amount look more attractive. Once they hook you, they add a resort fee on afterward.
You can easily figure out what the average resort charge is at any casino with a little internet research. But many gamblers don’t do this and are shocked upon seeing their final bill.
Are Resort Fees Illegal?
Casino resorts aren’t being entirely honest when they mask the cost of their amenities. However, they aren’t breaking the law when doing so either.
Casinos are perfectly entitled to require resort fees as long as they disclose them in the terms and conditions. I highly advise that you read the terms and conditions before officially reserving any room.
This one snippet is enough for casinos to rely on from a legal perspective. Of course, not every resort is so careful with their T&Cs or when advertising free services.
By and large, though, casinos are very good at disclosing their resort fees—no matter how small the fine print may be.
Grounds to Dispute These Charges
Land based gambling resorts expect you to cover any additional costs. However, you may be able to get out of resort fees, or at least pay less, under the following circumstances.
Some Amenities Don’t Work
Hospitality is all about making sure guests enjoy their stay. But casino resorts are by no means perfect.
One or more of their services may not work during your trip. For example, your room Wi-Fi could keep cutting in and out.
You don’t have to simply face the fact that you have a crappy internet connection. Instead, you should complain to the front desk when checking out.
Certain Services Aren’t Available
Another issue that can arise is when certain amenities aren’t available. For example, a hotel may close their swimming pool early, because they don’t have a lifeguard available.
You, on the other hand, might have been expecting to go for a swim. If you see the swimming pool listed under a resort fee, you definitely want to speak up.
Casinos do something like shut down their swimming pool early under the hope that most guests don’t complain. If you vocalize your displeasure, though, you’ll likely get accommodated in some way or another.
You Don’t Use One or More Amenities
A resort fee covers a bundle of potential services that casinos provide, from their airport shuttle bus to a fax machine. Chances are high that you won’t use every single one of these amenities—especially a fax machine.
You should ask a prospective casino ahead of time about what services they charge for. After going through these amenities with a fine-tooth comb, you can figure out what you will and won’t use.
The next step is to speak with a hotel representative beforehand about the services that you won’t be using. Assuming you’re dealing with a reputable casino, they should knock down the price for you.
A casino shouldn’t claim that they offer “free Wi-Fi” and include this very service in the resort fee. Such instances constitute false advertising.
Law enforcement isn’t going to shut the resort down for such practices. However, you should at least hold casinos accountable.
You can take pictures of anything that a casino advertises as being free. Next, you should look through everything included in the resort charge to see if you’ve been billed for the supposedly free service.
What Can You Do If the Casino Ignores Your Complaints?
As mentioned earlier, gambling resorts are in this business to get repeat guests. But not every staff member will work with you on problems that arise during your stay.
Assuming your complaints about resort fees fall on deaf ears, you can take one or more of the following actions.
Take Your Business Elsewhere
The simplest way to resolve this matter is to choose another hotel during your next stay. Bigger casino destinations, such as Vegas, Atlantic City, and Reno, offer numerous options.
Nothing forces you to pick the same casino that ripped you off again. Instead, you can make them pay by picking their local competitor the next time.
Plenty of gambling resorts have fallen by the wayside due to consistently bad service. Many others will suffer the same fate in the future when they’re unwilling to work with guests.
Email the Corporate Office
Casino resort employees may not have the authorization to reduce your amenity charges. Or, a manager could simply make their own determination that you should pay full price.
The corporate rep won’t give you a free penthouse suite. However, they could compensate you in another way if your gripe is legit.
Launch an Online Complaint
Certain websites (e.g. Better Business Bureau) exist solely to hold businesses accountable for bad practices. You can visit these sites and bash casinos after unfavorable situations dealing with resort fees.
Such websites allow you to type out a detailed explanation of exactly what happened and why you were cheated.
Your complaint alone won’t be enough to torpedo the casino. But a collection of criticisms just like yours will eventually cause others to avoid that particular resort.
Take the Casino to Small Claims Court
The most-extreme action you can take against a resort involves suing them in small claims court. This route gives you a chance to recoup your resort charge, legal fees, and any emotional damages suffered.
You’re not going to win a five- or six-figure lawsuit from the matter. But you can at least get your money back and cause the resort some headaches.
I advise you to strongly consider settling this matter in another way, though. After all, you could be out a lot of money with lawyer expenses involved if you lose the case.
Many people have been conditioned to accept resort fees as a part of their casino trip. They may even blindly pay these charges without question.
Assuming you’re loaded and don’t want to bother haggling with casinos, you’re perfectly within the right to accept these fees. But you also have the right to complain if one or more things go wrong.
Casinos shouldn’t expect you to cover the full cost of a stay if they have poor-working or non-available amenities.
You may be able to get your resort fee reduced or even waved entirely by complaining. Perhaps you won’t always be successful, but you’ll get some money back in many cases.