Sunday, April 24, 2016

Vegas Ain't What it Used to Be (Part 2)

Make sure you’ve read Part 1 (here) before reading this.

I guess some of you are wondering if charging for parking is that big of a deal.  Well actually, yes it is.  But also, it is just symbolic of how Vegas has changed over the years since I first started going there.  It’s sort of the last thing they can take away from you.  What’s next?  No more free drinks for players?  Charging to use the restrooms?  Maybe they’ll charge for each square of toilet paper?

So for those of you who never experienced it (or have forgotten), let me tell you about what Vegas used to be like.

In the old, old days, they wouldn’t dream of charging you for parking.  They barely charged you for anything at all.  When the “mob” ran the town, their philosophy was to do anything they could to get people in the casino. Once there, the suckers—I mean the patrons—would lose money playing games of chance that were totally rigged against them.  If you played long enough, you had to lose money.  Everyone knew you couldn’t beat the house, but yes, occasionally, you’d get lucky and leave a winner.  But they weren’t worried.  They knew you’d be back and give it all back to them.  That’s all they wanted, to get you at that blackjack table, or have you parked in front of the slot machine.  They were willing to lose money on everything else they did in order to keep people coming in to gamble, because they knew they’d win so much more from people gambling than they’d “lose” giving folks cheap (or free) food, drinks, rooms and entertainment.

Eventually corporations took over from the mob.  That reduced the chances of players getting kneecapped in the back room, but it increased the prices of everything around town.

Long before I ever visited Vegas—before I was born even—my Aunt and Uncle used to visit Vegas from L.A. quite frequently.  They had moved to L.A. from New York in the early 1950’s and discovered Vegas.  Back then, it was quite a deal.  They didn’t like to gamble at all.  But they insisted that they could drive to Vegas for a weekend, sit by the pool all day, enjoy a show or two starring a major headliner, eat at the buffet and/or enjoy some fine dining, and it would cost them less than staying home. Of course, gas was really cheap back then.  Interstate 15 didn’t exist, but the two lane highway that connected L.A. and Vegas worked almost as well. In those days, there weren’t that many people in Southern California so traffic wasn’t an issue. And all of that without them gambling a nickel, except for whatever free slot pulls or free table game bets they were given for checking into their hotel (the casinos used to do that).

Many years later, by the time my buddy Norm and I started making regular trips to Vegas, things had changed, but not that much.  We could still get incredibly cheap hotel rooms—especially during the week.  Although I bet we’d be happy to pay what we paid for a Saturday night back then for a weekday night today. 

The food was still a tremendous bargain.  I remember the Circus Circus buffet was like $2,99 for breakfast, $3.99 for lunch and $4.99 for dinner—all you could eat, of course.  And good quality food.  All the buffets were cheap.  When the Rio first opened its buffet, it was the best in town and still a bargain.  After a few years, we noticed the price had gotten a bit out of control.  These days I avoid the buffets but I could never, ever get my money’s worth at one with what they charge.  In fact, a 350-pound person who hadn’t eaten in three days couldn’t get their money’s worth now at most buffets.

There were also great food bargains around town.  Someone mentioned in a comment here not long ago the deal at the Dunes (where Bellagio now resides).  You could get a hot dog and a beer (or a soft drink) for a buck.  Yeah.  Try finding that deal now.  We would ride around town and see signs on the marquees offering great meal deals, sometimes during limited hours, sometimes 24/7. I remember one was at a place called the Ambassador.  Not sure where it was—it’s long gone—but it was off the Strip.  I don’t recall the price, but they had a fantastic deal on a full steak meal we’d always take advantage of every trip.  It wasn’t the best steak we’d ever had, but it was at least as good as half the steaks you’d find in a quality steakhouse.  It probably cost just a few bucks more than I recently paid just for pickles and onions.  There were more great deals like that than we could get to on a single trip.

We rarely ordered drinks at a Vegas bar, but I know back in the day those were cheap too.  I’m sure I remember paying no more than a buck or two for a beer at a bar.  It was cheaper than sitting at a blackjack table, blowing $20 waiting for your beer, that’s for sure.

Since I rarely drank at a bar, I actually remember when I first realized the price of drinks had gone up dramatically.  I was visiting during August, this time alone.  For reasons I can’t recall, I had done a lot of walking around the south end of the Strip.  And it was hot.  Really, really hot.  I later learned that it was the hottest day in Vegas recorded history for that particular date.  Since it was August, you can imagine how hot that was—117°, 118°, something like that.    I finally staggered into Mandalay Bay, and I was about to pass out.  I made it into a bar.  I was going to order my first drink in Vegas bar in years.  A beer sounded real good.  I ordered one from the comely cocktail waitress, and when she told me the price, I was floored.  Now honestly, I don’t recall how much it was, but I was expecting a buck or two and it was a ton more than that.  It was more than a six-pack of beer cost at the local super-market, for sure.  I paid her and all I could think of was, for that price, she should have poured it on her tits and let me lick it off her.


Of course, one of the things that changed were the table limits.  This was long before I started playing poker.  Back then, Norm and I played mostly blackjack and craps.  And since we knew the odds were stacked against us, and we thus wanted to make our precious gambling dollars last as long as possible, we always looked for the lowest minimum bets we could find.  It was actually possible to find $2 blackjack and $2 craps.  We just refused to play higher stakes than that.  There were some “classy” casinos we therefore couldn’t play in (Caesars, Desert Inn, for example) but we could usually find what we wanted.  These days $5 blackjack is virtually non-existent (I think casinos start at $15). And craps?  Forget about it.  Good luck finding a $5 craps table.  It’s $10 if you’re lucky.  And who only puts a single bet down on a craps table?  I would love to still play craps, but the way I like to play, I’d go through $200 in about four minutes unless I started winning right away.  They’ve totally priced me out.

That was actually one of the reasons we started playing a lot of Pai Gow when it started popping up all over town.  Although it generally cost more to start, the nature of the game meant you lost at a much slower rate, and your gambling dollar bought a lot more time than a similar buy-in at BJ or craps.

Although it never was important to me, in those days the cocktail waitress would just give you a pack of cigarettes if you asked for one.  These days, they sometimes have a cigarette lady walking around charging you some ridiculous amount for smokes.  I never smoked, I hate the smell, so I’m fine with that change, I just want to point it out.  And I think the change there may have had more to do with how our society views smoking than it being about Vegas making a buck.  But perhaps I’m being naïve.

Also, back then, if you were sitting at a blackjack table and you had a headache, you could ask the waitress to bring you some aspirin.  She’d bring you a couple, no charge.  Now you have to go the gift shop and pay more for a little package of aspirin than a 500-count box from Wal-Mart costs.  However, I suspect that this change has more to do with our corrupt legal system than anything else.  If casinos gave people aspirin for free, they could be sued if the person getting the free aspirin came down with any kind of illness—or, more likely, pretended to.  Lawyers, huh?

And then there were the shows.  The shows used to be a real bargain.  Again, they were loss leaders to get you to come to a particular casino.  Before and after the show, they figured you’d lose plenty of money in the casino to more than cover the deal you were getting for first class entertainment.  Norm and I saw all the big stage productions around town, in addition to plenty of comedy headliners of the day. We saw Don Rickles, Buddy Hackett, George Carlin, Bill Cosby (before he became a sad punchline himself), people like that.  And for not a lot of money.

But now….you bet they make tons of money on the shows.  My friends recently saw the Michael Jackson / Cirque de Soleil show at Mandalay Bay and paid like $450 for the two of them. Yes,, they didn’t get the cheapest seats but still, not quite a bargain.  I told them for that kind of money, they should bring him back to life for the finale.

I don’t travel a lot to other vacation destinations, but I do get the sense that hotel rates in Vegas are still a bargain—not compared to the old days but compared to other places people like to vacation.  And then there are the resort fees.  Here, I may surprise you.  I am not going to rant about them.

It’s not that I don’t think they stink—they do.  It’s just that they are more of a one-time gotcha.  Once you’ve been burned by them the first time, you sure as hell better be smart enough to make sure you factor them in when comparing the cost of one hotel to another. You know the old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.”  Well, once you know to look for them, problem solved.  Sure, it’s a pain in the ass to have to calculate the real room rate, but it’s manageable.

But you say they are charging for this “resort fee” for nothing, or for stuff that you don’t want, or that they should give you for free.  Well, maybe, but here’s the thing.  Suppose they passed a law outlawing resort fees.  Would you get your room for less?  Not a chance.  They’d just have to be honest about the real rate, and no longer make the room seem like more of a bargain than it is.  They would just add the resort fee onto the daily room rate they quote and make just as much money as they do now.  They’re not really charging you any more by calling it a resort fee, they’re just trying to fool you about the real cost.  As I said, once you get burned the first time (if you do), you know to factor it in.  I understand this, and that’s why you’ve never seen me rail against resort fees.  One of my pals likes to call them “ripoff fees” but I think they’re more like “gotcha this first time fees.”

As I mentioned in part 1, they do charge for parking in downtown Vegas.  In fact, they were charging for parking a zillion years ago when Norm and I first travelled there.  We always used to park in the garage at the Las Vegas Club (recently closed down).  It was five hours free with validation.  And there was no problem getting a validation.  There was a machine right by the cashier, and you were able to stamp the ticket yourself. You had five hours to enjoy any casino downtown without having to pay.  We figured if we needed more than five hours, it would mean we were winning way more than it would cost us for the parking (probably less than a buck an hour over the free period).  However, we never ever had to pay for parking, sadly.

We’d go downtown for three reasons.  One, we thought the buffet at the Golden Nugget was the best in town.  In addition to excellent food overall, they had absolutely the best brownies in the history of mankind.  We’d always joke that one time we’d go there and skip all the other food and just pig out on nothing but brownies.  Fortunately, we never actually tried that. We also liked to play blackjack at the LV Club, which had the “world’s most liberal blackjack.”  You could split and resplit Aces, double down on anything, and I don’t remember what else.  But it was pretty cool.  And then we’d go to Binion’s Horseshoe (now just Binion’s) where they had the most craps games going of any place in Vegas.  Not only did most of the tables offer a $1 minimum bet, but they offered 10X odds.  It was the best place to throw the dice in town.

Oh and by the way, yes I know we are talking years ago and inflation would have brought up many of the costs I’ve quoted by now.  That’s true, but believe me, the increases on all these things I’ve mentioned way exceed the rate of inflation. 

And now they are going to charge for parking on the Strip, where there are always plenty of parking spaces, where they want you to come so you can empty your wallet playing games of chance where the odds are always against you.  And these days, they don’t even pay you 3-2 for a blackjack.  It’s now 6-5.  Why?  Because they can get away with it, that’s why.

What’s left them for them to do to squeeze one more penny out of the suckers players?  Oh I know.  Maybe they’ll start charging you three bucks for pickles and onions on your burger.

Ten bucks to park, (if that’s what is) every time you come to the strip adds up fast.  For one thing, that’s ten bucks less you have to gamble with every time you come there.  Or ten bucks less you have to spend on drinks, or dinner.

Yes, as I pointed out in the first part, free parking will still be available under some circumstances.  Slot players or table games players who play a lot will get free parking. And again, I want to point out that the poker room managers went to bat for their players to get fee parking for their players.

But….not all their players.  Instead of offering parking validations for the players, you have to earn the free parking over time with your play.  The system was designed to keep the local regs and grinders coming back to MGM poker rooms.  Those folks should qualify easily.  But tourists? Not so much.

Most non-locals won’t qualify for free parking (at least from poker). How many visitors play 75 hours in a Vegas poker room a year?  I am an exception to the rule, because I go to Vegas a lot (partially because of my jobs) and play a lot of poker when I am there.  But I had already planned on coming to Vegas less often.  And if I decide to play at MGM less often and other non-MGM rooms more often, will I qualify for the free parking next year? 

And as I said, all the Strip casinos will have no choice but to adapt the same policy.  Let’s say the CET rooms use the same qualification….75 hours a year gets you free parking.  Well, maybe I can’t play 75 hours each in MGM rooms and CET rooms in a year (forgetting about hours at Venetian or TI or Wynn for a second).  I might have to decide to play all my poker in one chain or another, and thus never be able to park for free in the other chain’s casinos.

What about people who visit Vegas (for poker) less often than I do?  It will be very hard for most non-locals to qualify.  I ask my readers who visit Vegas from around the country (or around the world).  Do you play 75 hours of poker in one poker room a year?  Or do you play 40 hours a year in one poker room and 35 hours in another (both owned by MGM) in a year?  Probably not.
Of course if you fly in and don’t rent a car, it won’t matter.  But if you drive in, or fly in and rent a car, it will definitely matter.

What I’m trying to say is, it’s not just about me.  Usually it’s just about me, but not this time.  This blog is called Rob’s Vegas and Poker Blog.  Vegas is before poker.  That’s because I love Vegas.  Or always used to, anyway.  And I think this hurts the city.  Don’t believe me?  Check out this post from the same Two + Two thread that originally gave out the the info on the parking arrangement. Someone posted this a few posts later.  I post without permission or giving credit, but it’s there:

So it looks like just another tourist squeeze. Well, maybe they know what they're doing, but they've certainly been losing trips from me. I've cut way back.

Vegas is a desert with casinos and good food. With all the rising fees and ridiculous prices, lots of nicer destinations are becoming higher value choices. It's becoming easier and easier to "lose" the Vegas vs. elsewhere discussion with my wife
.

This is from a poker forum so I assume the guy plays poker.  My fear is that the parking charge will hurt the games in town.  At MGM properties at first, then everywhere when the other rooms have to charge for parking as well.  There will be fewer tourists in those games.  They’ll come to Vegas less often (if for no other reason than it will become more expensive and they can afford less trips), and they will not drive to casinos where they have to pay for park.  These three or four times a year visitors will never qualify for free parking unless they have a bad slot machine or pit game habit.  More and more, the games will more locals-oriented.  It’s tough to win money from the local nits, regs and grinders.  Much easier to win pots from the plumber from Peoria or the banker from Bangor who come a few times a year.

So yeah, Vegas ain’t what it used to be, and it becomes less like what it used to be every year.  The corporate suits who run the place are trying their best to kill the goose that laid the golden egg.  They basically have a license to steal called a gambling license, and it’s just not enough for them.  They want to grab you by the feet, turn you upside down shake every last penny from your pockets.

Shame on you, MGM.  Shame on you, Vegas.

45 comments:

  1. I've been saying for decades, that before we get rid of the lawyers, we should get rid of all MBAs. It's an entire mind-thought that you should cut corners as much as possible, hope no one notices, and keep the savings.

    These days, if I feel like playing PaiGow and Craps, I go to Reno; they still have low-roller tables.

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    1. Yeah, Norm, it's a far cry from when we started going there together XXXX years ago. Really a shame. Glad to hear Reno isn't as bad yet. Wish it was more convenient. Also...not as many good poker options. And I hear it snows there during the winter.

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    2. I wouldn't blame MBAs. They help more than anything, and you can't tell me they're to blame for resort fees and parking fees. The execs are the ones who get bonuses for getting the share price up, not the accountants.

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    3. Rob:Winter? It's snowing there NOW.

      Cokeboy99: What makes you think the execs aren't MBAs

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    4. Snow now? That should be unconstitutional, Norm.

      Nick, yes what Norm said. I'm not sure you get to be a high level exec at a big Casino corporation if you're not an MBA. Or at the very least, they bring in these MBA's as consultants who tell them to do shit like this.

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  2. Great post, Rob. My mind was flooded with memories as I kept reading. Hanging out at the snack bar at Westward Ho ... watching the couples in town for the swingers convention at Stardust ... playing dollar slots when I had little money because you could actually win on them.

    I remember what a big deal the Circus Circus buffet was. People would like up early and wait a heck of a long time. And as I remember, the food was pretty good back then. Now? I stayed at Circus a few trips ago for a couple nights and ate at its breakfast buffet with a freebie from myVEGAS Slots. I was warned to only eat the custom made omelet. That was great advice. I am certainly not a food snob, but everything else but the coffee was terrible. Even the bacon sucked.

    The days of 99 cent shrimp cocktails are definitely gone. That is why I like to eat at places like Ellis Island. The cafe there reminds me of old Vegas. *sigh*

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    1. Thanks, Lightning....another old-timer who remembers the good ol' days.

      Be sure to ask for the "locals special" when you eat at Ellis Island.

      How do you cook bacon badly???

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    1. I'm sure I would have gotten an A+++ from you if she was also smoking a joint.

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  4. I hear you Rob. Started going to Vegas in late 80s, 1.99 steak and eggs at the new Frontier (now Trump) the deals aren't great, airfare is no longer a bargin. I go hopefully once a year. This certainly makes other locations more attractive.

    LG
    Rochester NY

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    1. Thanks, LG. Yeah, there are no bargains left in Vegas. If there's someplace closer to you that has many of the things you used to go to Vegas for, why bother with Vegas?

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    2. On the other hand there is something about Vegas, I am just getting old and grumpy :)
      Still makes you think about options. It feels like gamblers aren't necessarily needed. If you think about it as long as they get my money the casinos don't care how.

      LG
      PS thanks for the blog, great read

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    3. Thanks again, LG....yeah Vegas is still unique, but they are still trying hard to kill that golden egg laying goose.

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  5. I've only been doing Vegas for a dozen years or so. But even in that short time things have gone to hell for poker players / commoners. In the first few years, I could get comped or deeply discounted rooms at places like Mandalay Bay, MGM, or Planet Hollywood. I could stay at Bellago, Wynn, or Venetian for less than a Holiday Inn Express in Bumblefuck, Iowa. Nowadays ... not so much. And I'm Platinum at MGM.

    That being said, my May trip is fully comped at Aria plus $100 resort credit for a four day stay. Maybe the bean counters are willing to pull out now.

    Still, the computer tracking systems know how much we're each worth--gambling, shows, clubs, dining, cocktails, retail. Poker players are just not worth it if they don't spend money elsewhere. For me, my dining is probably the only reason casinos care to invite me back with offers.

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    1. Thanks, Grange,

      Wow....I;m surprised you are getting comps based on your dining choices. Agree, it's probably not poker. So that just shows you how much they profit on those fine meals you enjoy.

      So I suppose it does pay in some sense to not be an In-N-Out Burger guy. :)

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  6. Rob, I believe the majority of tourists are in Vegas for 3 or 4 days and $30 or $40 spent on parking will not deter them from coming back. And those are the people MGM management had in mind when they decided to charge for parking. You are lucky enough to live in a state that offers live poker. Many Vegas visitors are not so fortunate.

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    1. It will really depend, Xdex. I'm sure for some they will take it in stride, others will curtail their Vegas visits or find alternatives.

      One thing that may happen is that people who fly in an rent a car may decide the next time to skip the car rental and just get around with cabs and Uber, may be cheaper.

      Also....the people who come now for the first time won't notice, they'll assume it was always this way. So they may return. I'm always surprised that everytime I come to Vegas I always run into folks visiting Vegas for their first time. I would think that by now everyone on the planet has been to Vegas. And these are folks from CA, AZ, UT....not places far away.

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    2. Some people will be spending $30 or more per day when the other properties start charging. I've seen plenty of complaints from tourists because they like to drive around several times a day. Also people using valet will be paying more than $10 a day.

      Steve007

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    3. Thanks, Steve...yeah, thirty bucks a day could only be the beginning. What if you start out at MGM and then go to Aria by car and end up at the Mirage? Do they ding you three times. It adds up fast.

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    4. I think for now they will only get you once if you drive to other MGM properties. But what happens when Caesars and others start charging? You might start at Aria, pay $10, drive to Bally's, pay another $10, and then drive to Wynn and pay another $10.

      Steve007

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    5. Looking at the way they have it set up and what I've heard,they are gonna charge every single time you exit, but we'll see.

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  7. I guess I have always passed on getting a rental car because I suspected I would end up arrested for DWI. I never had an issue riding the Deuce from downtown to the strip or vice versa. But add me to the camp that thinks the $10 parking fee sucks.

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    1. Thanks, Lester, wise decision to avoid drinking and driving.

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  8. My wife and I have been going to Vegas every year for the past 26 years. We're from Michigan and would go around our Anniversary.
    We stayed at the Rio the first year it opened. It's depressing to see how far it's fallen. Feels old and worn.
    Room rates, Resort fees, airline prices, degrading comps, higher table minimums, soaring buffet pricing, ridiculous show costs, and now parking fees, are just killing the Vegas Vibe.
    We've taken to playing the MyVegas games on Facebook just to chip away at some of the costs, but even that avenue isn't what it used to be. Their rewards are getting worse every year.
    If they ever do start charging for drinks, that would be the final straw for me.
    We have Casinos in Michigan. I can take em' or leave em'.
    I go to Vegas for the experience. For the freebies. For the comp bourbon, hot cocktail waitresses, extravagant surroundings, and warm weather.
    I think Vegas has fallen victim to their own success.
    Each property has to outdo the other to keep the masses flowing into their establishment.
    That costs money. The more they have to offer, the more somebody's got to pay for it.
    The Mexican all inclusive resorts are starting to look like a better deal.

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    1. Very well said, angryshortguy! Rather than try to find new ways to make Vegas unique so it will still be a target destination resort city, they've just decided to give and take whatever they can get and squeeze the last penny out of everyone who does show up. Sad.

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  9. While I understand the resort fees, and the items they cover, here are my issues with them:
    They are charged on comped rooms. A comped room should be a comped room, period.
    They cover stupid stuff that isn't used. Free local phone calls? Gym passes? WiFi in room is utilized on occasion but that is $14 if paid for separately, compared to $29 in resort fees. The cost doesn't equal the value, and there should be an option to at least opt out and pay for only what is needed, if anything.

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    1. Well, I already responded to some of your criticisms of resort fees in my post, Nick.

      But I will admit that you made a very valid point I didn't think of....they charge you resort fees on so called comped rooms. Outrageous.

      So in my scenario, if they outlawed resort fees, all they could do is say that they are reducing the charge on a $100/nite room to $30, and call it "almost comped." Heh. Or actually comp you the room and mean it, which they don't want to do.

      So yeah, when they charge those fees on comped rooms, it really and truly is a ripoff. No two ways about it.

      I didn't think of it because in all the years I've been going in Vegas, I've NEVER gotten a comped room. Even after I started working in the poker biz. Never.

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  10. Good post with good points. I wonder what the tourist to business traveler ratio is these days - parking fees for business travelers attending a convention is no big deal (think reimbursement), and I also wonder what the tourist to car rental ratio is these days... Do most tourists have a car to worry about paying for parking?

    I think you're seeing the rising trend in costs similar to AC out east. I'd imagine the recent influx of local casinos has considerably hurt business to all the traditional "Meccas" of gambling. For example, if I want to play poker or go gamble, I have my choice of 3 casinos (soon to be 4 towards the end of the summer) within 45 minutes of my house. Prior to 5 years ago, I'd have to drive at least 90 minutes - if not longer!

    Ultimately, I think these casinos are hurting for business and looking to pay for the lost revenue in hidden costs or costs around the edges - resort fees, parking fees, etc. Long term, these fees are not likely the answer but perhaps they realize that the long-term viability of Vegas or AC is doomed because of the scavenging effect of the local casinos. Ironically, many of the "local casinos" are owned by the very corporations who are experiencing the down trend in Vegas; i.e. MGM, CET & Penn National.

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    1. Thanks, PM...yeah, they've basically given up trying to get visitors by keeping Vegas unique and just want to squeeze the last penny out of everyone who does show up. Maybe when there is so much competition around the country, that business model does make sense.

      It's a damn shame, tho.

      I think I mentioned this somewhere, don't know the details but I do know it was pointed out by one of the Vegas oriented twitter accounts that well over half the visitors to Vegas each year either get to town by car or rent when when they get here.

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  11. This is such an old man complaining about the good old days post it's hilarious. Even though said man has a job that didn't exist in the good old days because the internet didn't exist yet.

    The key to Vegas is looking up all the freebies that are given away online. IF you are looking in the right spots you can frequently get free drinks from casino's and I'm sure there will be offers for free parking.

    For example I always fly down on Southwest and in the in flight magazine there is an ad for the NYNY that if you show them a picture of the ad you get a free mixed drink. It's bottom shelf but who cares it's free. Also you have Groupon now to get to shows for cheaper especially if you are willing to go during the week.

    Also when you book your trip never go through an online booking. Go straight to where you want to go then ask for free buffets, maybe waive a resort fee or 2, or ask for comped parking the whole time you are there.

    If you are still paying all their nickel and dime fees you are just as big of a sucker as the person spending all their money on a slot machine.

    I'll finish with a complement because I really do enjoy your posts and the best stories come from when you are in Vegas so I really do hope you continue to go. I'll be down in Vegas July 1st- 10th if you are in town I'd love to say hi and buy you a drink and talk poker strategy.

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    1. Listen, you punk kid, didn't your mother ever tell you to respect your elders?

      STAY OFF MY LAWN, YOU SLACKER!

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    2. PS, I mostly hear that it is impossible to get them to waive resort fees these days. I also was told that unless you qualify under the program, they are going to be really hard ass about not waiving parking fees. We'll see.

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  12. Rob, I got nostalgic reading your post. The part I liked best was the story of your aunt and uncle going up to Vegas in the early 50's. They would have taken the old US 91 up through Riverside is my guess. They may have also gone up through Newhall to the 14, then used the Pear blossom Highway to dogleg over to Victorville, then up the 91. My father talks about going to Vegas in the late 40s with his parents. 8 hours from LA up the 91 the whole way. He remembers seeing a row of red lights and a row of white lights as you'd crest a hill at night. Pretty much the same story today on the 15. Next issue is that the best food in Vegas is either at the Orleans or the Gold Coast, both just off the strip. Get the Internet email promos for a fancy room on the strip (I am writing you this from an upgrade room on the 37th floor of the Aria. Unreal room.) but eat at the Gold Coast Chinese food, wok cooked at Ping Pang Pong. Amazing food for reasonable prices. Always remember: The way to win in Vegas is to NOT GAMBLE. With that in mind, it is easy to beat the Vegas system. Next, with respect to the (boning you) parking charges at the MGM Hotels, it won't last. Watch for new billboards driving up from LA start to read: FREE PARKING at the Treasure Island. Hmmm... ya thing Treasure Island will steal business away from the MGM? I think yes. If I were a casino exec I'd already be contracting to advertise that message on those signs! Walmart didn't become the dominant US retailer by boning it's customers with parking fees. They became the biggest retailer by providing a perceived bargain to their shoppers. MGM is being stupid on this charge for parking issue. There is NO WAY I will personally EVER pay for parking at a casino. Cheers Woody

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    1. Thanks, Woody. I hope you're right, but what is gonna happen is that Treasure Island parking STRUCTURE will fill up with people going to Mirage to avoid paying the fee and they will have to charge too. Bet on it.

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    2. The owner of Treasure Island said in an article that if the other properties start charging, that you bet Treasure Island will join the party. And the words "you bet we'll join the party" were his words, not mine. It still annoys me how excited he sounded at the possibility of charging and bringing in some extra money.

      Steve007

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    3. Thanks, Steve...I do remember that now.

      There you go, Woody....

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    4. Here's a direct quote and a link to the article:

      "* On MGM Resorts' controversial move toward adopting a pay-to-park policy, Ruffin said he's going to "wait and see if it spreads. If it spreads, I'm sure I'll join the party.""

      http://www.reviewjournal.com/opinion/columns-blogs/norm-clarke/ti-owner-ruffin-talks-trump-the-nfl-and-paying-park-las-vegas

      Steve007

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  13. I started going to Vegas regularly in 2009, when I got laid off. On many of my trips (which were often weekday, Monday-through-Friday trips where I'd drive down on Monday and back on Friday), I stayed downtown. In fact, my first 2 of those trips I stayed at the fabulous El Cortez. The first trip, I got a room in their motel-like space on the top floor of the garage for $5/night, and on the second trip a couple of weeks later, I got a "real" room in the "tower" for $9/night. Over the next couple of years, I got many cheap rooms at Imperial Palace, where I found the Sunday night mixed game and started encouraging others to play in that game there when I was there.

    But I never paid to park in any of the garages of any of the downtown hotels. In fact, the only hotel that I knew had paid parking did so because they leased their garage from the city. So no charge, but just sometimes on a bust Saturday night, I had to show a room key when I came back from playing poker elsewhere.

    What's interesting about downtown is now they have put parking meters on many of the streets. I suspect it's so Zappos employees won't take all the street parking. That may be why some of hte hotels charge too, although I've not stayed downtown in a long time (even ElCo charges a "resort" fee, although they have nothing "resort" like on the property, not even a pool), so I don't know what's changed re: parking there recently.

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    1. I'm pretty sure that all the garages and lots for the casinos on Fremont have charged for parking for a long time, but they also validate. I mentioned that last post. And if you were staying there, of course it was free.

      I recall when I first met Tony, I drove him back to 4 Queens where he was staying, we parked in their garage, and he had to get my ticket stamped so we didn't have to pay when we left.

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    2. I have stayed at El Cortez, Main Street Station, Vegas Club, and I believe the hotel that the D became. Not once was there a charge for parking in any of those lots/garages, and at only one was I ever asked for a room key before I could enter, and that was ElCo. And I never needed any sort of validation to exit any of them.

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    3. What's funny about that is that everytime I go downtown, I see a huge sign at Main Street Station that says "Free Parking with Validation."

      And if you mean Las Vegas Club, well as I said, we parked there all the time.....50-60 times easy over the years....and you always had a take a ticket and get it validated. There was a sign saying how much per hour but I don't remember it and we never paid it, but presumably, they sure did charge for parking.

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  14. StayAwayFromTheStripApril 25, 2016 at 3:21 PM

    Corporations are like plague of Locusts.. They look for anything green, destroy it, then move on. I tend to stay away from Vegas Strip hotels due to how they milking money from people for anything they can! The 'resort fees' are just ridiculous hidden fees. And now parking fees? :) Ehhh, It seems like casinos are slowly moving away from gambling as their source of revenue..

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    1. Thanks for the comment,...Yes...they are making more money on pickles and onions than on gambling, apparently.

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  15. Hi Rob I used to get free one day flights out of Burbank and get flown downtown. Had to play $ 5 dollar a bet craps for 2 hours to qualify for flights. Yeah and I used to have a players card at The Las Vegas Club for rooms and free meals. Its fun to reminisce. I think the whole point of your story is Vegas used to have a low and a high roller vibe to it. Now not so much. It seems to me Vegas wants people flying in for the shows and restaurants and be willing to drop bigger sums for just that. I heard the clubs make up to 30 percent of the casinos profits now. Its just the way of the world.

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    1. My guess is that for some of the casinos that have the most popular clubs, over 50% of their profits come from them.

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