Here’s a hard truth—when you visit Las Vegas, the expectation should always be to head home a loser, whether that’s because of astounding resort fees or gambling losses.
If you think about it, the inherent house edge incurred on every single casino game ensures that operators always wind up in the positive, at least over the long run. Individual players still stand a chance of winning big in a short-term scenario, but unless you have a lucky horseshoe, you can expect to sink some dough when you gamble in Sin City.
I’ve blown through four-figure bankrolls at blackjack, and video poker machines have drained me for hundreds of dollars in the blink of an eye. But those losses are all par for the course when it comes to gambling in Las Vegas.
So, when I first encountered the scourge of “resort fees,” also known as “drip pricing,” “amenity fees,” or “destination fees,” I very nearly came unglued.
What Is a Resort Fee?
Resort fees are paid additionally for access to “extra” amenities offered by the venue. At the Aria Resort & Casino, for example, the $39 in hidden fees is paid for access to “the internet, local and toll-free calls, airline boarding-pass printing, fitness center, digital magazines, notary service.”
Yep, you read that correctly… notary service and digital magazines.
You might search online and find a room at the Aria listed for $69 per night, so you snap up the seemingly great deal without a second thought.
And indeed, when your debit or credit card is initially charged, you’ll only see that $69 advertised rate deducted from your account.
Then, you go to check in and the front desk attendant hits you with the whammy! Each night’s stay actually costs $108. That’s because the Aria, like almost every casino on the Strip along with the major off-Strip joints, bundles a $39 resort fee into your final rate. Sure, they use fine print to inform you upon booking, but most websites list the room rates without resort fees included.
That means most customers see a smoking deal, snag the room quickly to make sure they secure what seems like a steal, then find out that they’re obligated to pay more later.
In a report by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released in 2017, titled Economic Analysis of Hotel Resort Fees, the regulatory watchdog concluded that resort fees were essentially a scam:
“This analysis finds that separating mandatory resort fees from posted room rates without first disclosing the total price is likely to harm consumers by increasing the search costs and cognitive costs of finding and choosing hotel accommodations.”
Overall, it doesn’t take a genius to realize bait and switch tactics just aren’t cool from the customer’s perspective.
Which Casinos in Las Vegas Charge Resort Fees?
Unfortunately, nearly all of them do, and the phenomenon isn’t going away anytime soon.
The list below highlights the dozens and dozens of casinos which currently charge customers with resort fees:
Las Vegas Casino Resorts That Currently Charge Resort Fees
- Aria: $39
- Bally’s Las Vegas: $35
- Bellagio: $39
- Caesars Palace: $39
- Circus Circus: $32
- Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas: $39*
- The Cromwell: $37
- Delano Las Vegas: $37
- Encore: $39
- Excalibur: $35
- Flamingo Las Vegas: $35
- Four Seasons Las Vegas: $39
- Hard Rock Hotel: $33*
- Harrah’s Las Vegas: $35
- The LINQ: $35
- Luxor: $35
- Mandalay Bay: $37
- Mandarin Oriental: $39
- MGM Grand: $37
- Mirage: $37
- Park MGM: $37
- New York-New York: $37
- Nobu Hotel: $39
- Paris Las Vegas: $37
- Palazzo: $45
- Palms Las Vegas: $32*
- Planet Hollywood: $37
- Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino: $30
- The Signature at MGM Grand: $37
- Sahara Las Vegas: $32*
- Stratosphere: $33
- Treasure Island: $37
- Tropicana: $35
- Vdara: $39
- Venetian: $45
- Westgate Las Vegas: $34
- Westin Las Vegas: $32
- Wynn Las Vegas: $39
*These venues occasionally run “Resort Fee Free” sales, so check with the front desk before booking to see if they have a deal running
Why Are So Many Casino Chains Resorting to the Resort Fee Hustle?
Like anything else connected to the tentacles of unbridled capitalism, competition is the culprit here. Even when a casino operator doesn’t necessarily believe resort fees are the right way to go, they wind up being forced into participating due to the fear of becoming uncompetitive.
You might suspect that running a “No Resort Fee” promotion would serve to attract positive attention, and indeed, a few of the casinos listed above have begun experimenting with advertising campaigns directed that way.
But that’s only half the story. When a casino chooses not to charge a resort fee, it’s obligated to list its full rate online.
So, when you’re scrolling through hotel listings, you’ll see someplace like the Mirage charging only $39 per night, while a competing casino is listed at $59. Naturally, you’ll click on the lower rate and book with the Mirage, only to realize that your true rate is actually doubled thanks to a $37 resort fee.
Are There Any Casinos or Hotels in Las Vegas That Don’t Charge Resort Fees?
Yes and no, really, because the vast majority of hotels in Las Vegas that skip the resort fee don’t have attached casinos.
In any event, however, if you’re looking to avoid resort fees at all costs, booking a room at any of the hotels listed below will get you a bed in Las Vegas without breaking the bank:
Las Vegas Hotels That Don’t Charge Resort Fees
- Americas Best Value Inn
- Casino Royale Best Western Plus
- Desert Rose Resort
- Four Queens
- Lucky Club
- Marriott Las Vegas
- La Quinta Inn and Suites
- Residence Inn
- Red Roof Inn
- Royal Resort
- Travelodge Center Strip
- WorldMark Las Vegas Blvd
- WorldMark Tropicana
- Wyndham Desert Blue
- Wyndham Grand Desert
Once you’re here, you can easily make a short trip to the Strip, Downtown Las Vegas, or your off-Strip casino of choice to get your gamble on like usual.
Is Anybody Trying to Take on the Casinos Over the Resort Fee Issue?
Fortunately, a backlash from aggrieved guests, including multiple lawsuits filed against prominent hotel chains like Hilton and Marriott may be finally turning the tide of public sentiment against resort fees.
Earlier this year, Washington DC Attorney General Karl Racine sued Marriott, the world’s largest hotel chain, on behalf of customers who have been bilked out of hundreds of millions of dollars over the last 10 years and counting.
In his filing, Racine accused the casinos of deceiving unsuspecting guests by affixing resort fees to bills without first making the charges crystal clear to customers:
“This is a straight-forward price deception case. For at least the last decade, Marriott has used an unlawful trade practice called ‘drip pricing’ in advertising its hotel rooms whereby Marriott initially hides a portion of a hotel room’s daily rate from consumers.”
The lawsuit goes on to call out Marriott—and by association, Las Vegas casino resorts—who use the same tactics for misleading customers by advertising erroneous room rates.
Thanks to lawsuits like this, and a steady stream of unhappy customers posting their complaints on social media, many industry experts are predicting the coming years will usher in a new era of fair rate advertising.
Nobody likes to feel as though they’ve been taken advantage of, and that feeling is especially pronounced when you’re already planning to lose a few bucks gambling in Las Vegas.
Whoever came up with the resort fee scheme clearly deserved a hefty raise from his corporate overlords, but from the customer’s perspective, that individual is essentially the devil in disguise.
I hope this guide to navigating the noxious world of Las Vegas resort fees serves you well, but here’s hoping the need for a blog like this disappears down the road.