President Biden Targets Junk Fees, Including Ones Used In Las Vegas

Written By Marc Meltzer on March 1, 2023
Junk fees at casinos

President Joe Biden continues to call for the end of “junk fees.” These are hidden fees that are added to the price of flights, banking, hotel rooms, show tickets, and more.

His crusade started late last year and is continuing this year. So far, the fees haven’t gone away despite the attention from the highest-ranking politician in the US and mainstream media coverage.

Will President Biden’s drive to remove these fees work? It’s too early to tell.

If there’s a fee change it might not matter all that much to visitors to Las Vegas. This is one of the cities that have come to embrace extra fees – actually, all of the fees.

If corporations are forced to remove the fees that likely means prices for some of these goods and services will increase. Additionally, casino rewards members may see changes to their benefits.

Las Vegas Junk Fees

Nevada casinos and Las Vegas businesses use “junk fees” whenever possible. It’s fairly difficult to avoid paying an extra fee no matter what time of day someone visits Las Vegas.

Hotel Fees

Visitors to Las Vegas have almost gotten used to hotel resort fees that add an additional $30-$50 per night per visit. Since there are so many hotel rooms in Las Vegas, the price can be so low that the resort fee accounts for more than 100% of the actual cost of a hotel room each night.

Staying at a Las Vegas hotel can be quite the experience for the uninitiated. There’s a room fee plus a resort fee for amenities like free local calls, gym use, and wifi for every night, regardless of whether or not a guest uses the service. Some hotels may have additional fees for things guests might want. These include an upgraded Vegas Strip view, parking, early check-in, late check-out, pets, and more.

Show and Concert Fees

Service fees for shows and concerts aren’t new either. However, since there aren’t many show promotors the fees have climbed rapidly in recent years. According to music industry trade magazine Pollstar, Las Vegas had the most expensive concert tickets in 2022 at $151.69. Show service fees can add as much as 25%-50% to the cost of a ticket.

Bar and Restaurant Fees

There are a growing number of bars and restaurants adding hidden a CNF (concession and franchise) fee to bills. These are sometimes on a menu in small print away from the food a guest might order. When ordering a drink at the bar, nobody will tell the customer of a fee. This fee is typically around 5% and just low enough that many tourists don’t notice 50 cents added to a $10 beer or $2.50 on a $50 meal.

Dayclub and Nightclub Fees

Las Vegas dayclubs and nightclubs also add fees to already high prices for VIP tables and cabanas. Clubs charge  guests a venue fee of around 15% in addition to a minimum spend requirement. Many clubs also include 15%-20% gratuity to the bill. Guests are expected to add more gratuity on top of this. For what it’s worth, guests who can afford an expensive VIP experience typically don’t have a problem with the additional fees.

What’s Next For Fees In Las Vegas

Will all of these fees go away now? Like Lee Corso famously says on ESPN’s College Gameday – not so fast, my friend.

Corporations make billions of dollars from these “junk fees.” They won’t let them go quickly.

The president of the casino trade organization, American Gaming Association (AGA), Bill Miller is already arguing in favor of these fees. In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Miller said that resort fees provide value to customers and that all-inclusive pricing is bad:

“Changing to all-inclusive pricing would result in removal of existing amenity disclosures and could lead to consumers making assumptions about what services and amenities would be available.”

The AGA is a gaming operator trade organization, so it’s Miller’s job to argue on their behalf. He does not represent the customer that pays the fees.

Casino Rewards Club Changes

All inclusive pricing will change one thing at Las Vegas casino hotels. Rewards programs will once again be devalued if there’s a change in how customers are billed.

Right now, resort fees are waived for many middle and upper tier casino rewards members. This is a significan’t financial benefit of $30-$50 per night for visitors loyal to certain casino operators.

If hotels start charging only a room fee plus tax there won’t be a resort fee to be waived for the most loyal visitors to Las Vegas. The best perk will no longer be available for mid-upper tier rewards members.

Additionally, it’s possible that there will be fewer complimentary rooms available since the lower tier reward members won’t be able to subsidise the casino corporations. These companies aren’t in the business of losing money.

Don’t expect the expense from fees elsewhere to disappear either. Corporations are used to earning the extra money and someone will eventually have to pay for it.

While raging against fees isn’t a bad thing, the actual cost of Las Vegas hotel rooms, goods, and services might not change all that much.

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Marc Meltzer

Marc grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

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