Las Vegas Resort Fees

Many visitors to Las Vegas are surprised by an annoying fee that gets added to their hotel room rate, called a Resort Fee. This Resort Fee is an extra fee that hotels charge. Its not optional. The reasons why hotels charge Resort Fees is related to the rise of price comparison travel booking websites such as Expedia and Priceline. These sites list the headline room rate for many different hotels, allowing consumers to price compare. This competition encourages hotels to compete on price, thereby encouraging them to lower their price in order to attract bookings. The nature of the price comparison site also means the hotels must pay the booking site in order to be listed, and the fee is based on the value of the bookings. So if a hotel lowers the rate they list their rooms for on a booking site they will get better search results, and since the fee paid by the hotel to the booking site is related to the headline room rate, the hotels have an incentive to charge additional fees to the guest once on site, in order to bypass the booking fee. With this system, there is an incentive for the hotel to bypass the booking site as much as possible, hence the rise of Resort Fees.

I think Resort Fees are a type of bait and switch. Most hotel guests don’t read the fine print when they book their room, and I think its disingenuous for hotels to bury hidden fees in the fine print. This is especially true because the Resort Fee at many Las Vegas hotels is quite large, in some cases the Resort Fee is even more than the posted room rate itself.

As a frequent visitor to Las Vegas, I surveyed the current resort fee rates for future reference. The table below is up to date at the date of writing, but will change, so double check before you book.

Some notes, on the table below. I can’t find the Resort Fees for the Boyd properties downtown (California, Fremont, Main Street). I assume they charge resort fees though. Cannery hotels just started charging resort fees, and so did Arizona Charlies. The Cannery rates are still a good deal in my opinion (if you don’t mind the neighborhoods). The Downtowner now charges a resort fee (that must cause literal fist fights). Some of the resort fees are ridiculous, such as Excalibur, where the resort fee is sometimes higher than the room rate itself.

Hotel Fee
Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas $44.22
ARIA Resort & Casino $44.22
The Venetian Las Vegas $44.22
The Palazzo Las Vegas $44.22
Bellagio $44.22
Vdara Hotel & Spa $44.22
The Cosmopolitan Of Las Vegas $39.69
Mandalay Bay Resort And Casino $39.68
Nobu Hotel $39.68
The Cromwell $39.68
Caesars Palace – Resort & Casino $39.68
The Signature at MGM Grand $39.68
Paris Las Vegas Resort & Casino $39.68
Mirage Resort & Casino $39.68
MGM Grand Hotel & Casino $39.68
Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino $39.68
Treasure Island Hotel and Casino $39.68
New York-New York Hotel & Casino $39.68
Monte Carlo Resort and Casino $39.68
Wynn Las Vegas $39.00
Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa $36.15
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino $35.15
W Las Vegas $35.00
Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino $34.01
The LINQ Hotel & Casino $34.01
Bally’s Las Vegas – Hotel & Casino $34.01
Flamingo Las Vegas $34.01
Luxor Hotel and Casino $34.01
Excalibur Hotel Casino $34.01
Harrah’s Hotel and Casino $34.01
Tropicana Las Vegas $33.00
The Westin Las Vegas Hotel, Casino & Spa $32.88
Trump International Hotel Las Vegas $32.63
Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas $32.00
SLS Las Vegas a Tribute Portfolio Resort $32.00
Lucky Dragon Las Vegas $31.75
Golden Nugget Las Vegas Hotel & Casino $31.08
Circus Circus Hotel, Casino $30.61
Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino $29.95
Hooters Casino Hotel $29.48
Hilton Grand Vacations at The Flamingo $28.35
Polo Towers by Diamond Resorts $28.35
Stratosphere Hotel $28.33
Cancun Resort by Diamond Resorts $28.25
Tuscany Suites & Casino $27.21
Platinum Hotel $26.07
Downtown Grand Las Vegas $25.99
The Berkley Las Vegas $25.00
Grandview at Las Vegas $25.00
Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel $23.80
Sunset Station Hotel & Casino $22.79
Oasis at Gold Spike $22.60
JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa $22.59
the D Las Vegas $22.50
Golden Gate Hotel and Casino $22.50
South Point Hotel, Casino, and Spa $21.00
Silver Sevens Hotel & Casino $20.99
Gold Coast Hotel and Casino $20.40
Super 8 Las Vegas at Ellis Island Casino $20.40
Plaza Hotel and Casino $20.34
Suncoast Hotel and Casino $20.33
The Orleans Hotel & Casino $20.33
The M Resort Spa Casino $19.99
Santa Fe Station Hotel & Casino $19.20
Texas Station Gambling Hall $19.20
Boulder Station Hotel and Casino $19.20
Tahiti Village Resort & Spa $19.04
Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall $18.07
Serene, A Vegas Resort $17.89
Palace Station Hotel and Casino $17.00
Westgate Flamingo Bay Resort $16.99
Silverton Casino Hotel $16.99
Desert Paradise Resort by Diamond Resorts $16.95
El Cortez Hotel and Casino $16.89
Fiesta Henderson Hotel and Casino $15.95
Fiesta Rancho Hotel & Casino $14.68
Tahiti All-Suite Resort $14.56
Days Inn Las Vegas At Wild Wild West $12.99
Club De Soleil All-Suite Resort $12.32
Arizona Charlie’s Decatur $8.48
Arizona Charlie’s Boulder $8.48
Eastside Cannery Casino & Hotel $7.90
Longhorn Casino & Hotel $6.77
The Downtowner $5.65
Cannery Hotel & Casino $5.64
Mardi Gras Hotel & Casino $5.60

Playing Craps

Craps is a gambling game played with dice that’s found in many American casinos. Craps evolved from the dice game of Hazard played in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries. The game of craps is a simplified version of hazard which became popular in colonial Louisiana, and eventually spread to other parts of the United States. Casino craps as we know it today reached the height of its popularity in post war Las Vegas. Craps is somewhat intimidating to a layperson, which adds to its mystique and credibility with gamblers.

There are a few aspects of casino craps that make it popular, including its physical, social, and temporal aspects. A craps table is a large tub where handfuls of players share the same betting layout. Typically, two dealers, a “stick man”, and a “box man” run the game. Players make bets on the layout while a “shooter” throws the dice which will determine the outcome. Contrary to games like roulette and blackjack, the players themselves throw the dice. This aspect of the game gives players a sense of ownership in the result. As many players are crowded around the same game, it makes for a boisterous atmosphere. The multitude of bets available allows each player to make choices about the volatility of outcome that suits their personal preference.

To play craps, find some space at a table, and wait for the end of a roll. Place your cash on the layout (don’t hand your cash to the dealer) when there’s a break in the action. The dealer will take your cash and give you chips to bet with. Place your chips in the rack in front of you (don’t put anything else in your rack, there is space for your drink and purse on a rail below).

You can make any bet on the table, but the most common bet is the “pass line”. This is a bet in favour of the “shooter”. The game begins when the shooter throws the dice, called a “come out roll”. If the result is a 7 or 11, the pass line wins even money, if the result is 2, 3, or 12, the pass line “craps out”. If any other number is rolled, this number becomes the “point” number. The shooter continues rolling until either the “point” number is rolled again or a 7 is rolled, which ends the game.

There are cheap ways to play craps and expensive ways. Playing the pass line or don’t pass (which is the opposite of pass) carries a house edge of 0.40% per roll. This means, a $10 bet will theoretically cost you 4 cents. If there are 100 rolls per hour, the theoretical cost for you to bet the pass line for an hour will be $4. Your actual result each hour will be determined by the rolls of the dice. For more details on the house edge of craps, consult the Wizard of Odds.

There any many different bets on a craps table, but the best way for a beginner to play is simply betting the pass line, and maybe adding some odds. Craps is a fast paced game, so its easy to lose or win quickly if more bets are made. My suggestion for beginners is to take it slow and bet the minimum on the pass line.

 

 

 

Palms Las Vegas sold to Stations/RRR

Palms Las Vegas has been sold to Station Casinos.  This marks the latest move by Las Vegas locals casinos to consolidate their competitive positions. There are fewer unlimited gaming licenses held by independent operators in Las Vegas compared to a few weeks ago since Boyd Gaming purchased the Cannery/Eastside Cannery as well as Aliante.  Now that Stations has purchased the Palms, the two local powerhouses are going head to head in all local neighborhoods. There are a couple of locals properties still operating independently such as Rampart which is next door to Suncoast (Boyds), South Point which is out on its own on the south part of Las Vegas Blvd, and the two Arizona Charlie’s properties (one on Decatur & one on Boulder) which are owned by Ichan’s American Casinos.

The Palms purchase is particularly interesting because of its proximity to the strip and strategic location. The Palms has historically marketed to a mix of locals and tourists. Its also right across the street from Gold Coast (Boyds). Stations still owns a large lot that is zoned for a casino resort on Tropicana where a Days Inn now operates and a casino is run by Stations. Investors should wonder if the development of this site is now less likely?  With room rates and visitation to Las Vegas at all time highs, the additional rooms at the Palms (over 700) should provide some firepower against in a fight against the Orleans (Boyds) and Gold Coast (Boyds) nearby.  The Palms, which sits on Flamingo west of the strip might also be complementary to Palace Station (Stations) which is on Sahara to the north. Boyds doesn’t have a property on Sahara either. Maybe Stations has a competitive advantage from a room availability standpoint (leaving Boyds vulnerable to discounting) and also from a marketing perspective (by consolidating marketing planning between the three properties immediately west of the strip (Wild Wild West, Palms, Palace Station).

The Palms purchase is another example of a bullish bet on Las Vegas room rates and visitation. Las Vegas watchers should also be wondering whether Stations will re-position the Palms down-market by targeting value guests like those that are otherwise staying at the Gold Coast. I think the sale of the Palms is also a missed opportunity by Caesars, which is distracted by bankruptcy negotiations.  It certainly would have made sense of the Rio to be sold to an operator who could re-position it towards the locals market.

With a market cap of just over $2 billion, Red Rock Resorts (Stations) is about the same size as Boyd Gaming, but the more than $300 million price tag for the Palms is going to be a large meal for them to swallow. Hopefully rates stay low and valuations stay high for their sake.

Station Casinos parent company buys Palms for $312.5 million

Station Casinos parent company Red Rocks Resort Inc. has escalated the battle for Las Vegas locals casino dominance by acquiring the Palms for $312.5 million. Company officials didn’t take questions after the announcement, but will discuss the deal in detail during its earnings conference call Wednesday.

After IPO, Red Rock Resorts to buy Palms Casino Resort

Red Rock Resorts Inc., the newly public company formerly known as Station Casinos, is enhancing its prominent Las Vegas presence with a $312.5 million deal to buy the Palms Casino Resort.

Station Casinos picks up Palms, near Strip, for $312.5 million

Station Casinos said Tuesday that it is buying the off-Strip Palms resort for $312.5 million, yet another recent example of locals-oriented casino operator expanding in the valley.

Casino REIT dominoes are falling

Last week MGM Resorts International announced they will carve out a REIT from their operations to be called MGM Growth Properties. This is the first major Las Vegas strip property owner to clearly give intentions on REIT creation. Caesars has a desire to convert to a REIT, but its still mired in a long bankruptcy battle with its creditors.  For MGM, 10 of their properties will be rolled into MGM Growth Properties including most of its Las Vegas strip properties with the Park development, but the REIT will exclude Bellagio and the MGM Grand.  The festival grounds on the corner of Sahara and the Strip as well as Circus Circus will also be excluded from the REIT. MGM Detroit and the gulf coast properties will be included, and MGM Springfield will likely be folded into the REIT once its operational.

The creation of an MGM REIT will have major impacts on the Las Vegas Strip, but at first, MGM Resorts International will retain a 70 percent stake in MGM Growth Properties. This means that MGM Resorts International will control the REIT and operate the two divisions with parallel business strategies.

SLS Las Vegas is Out of Touch

The SLS Las Vegas is poorly positioned to target Las Vegas locals.  If you’re coming from the west side of the highway, you have to take Sahara towards the strip, which is an unpleasant drive in major traffic. The neighborhood surrounding the SLS is filled with tourists or down-and-out beggars.

What can the SLS offer locals? Palace Station has a cheap buffet and better games, such as some full pay video poker.  The Boarding Pass at Station Casinsos offers players a better payback compared to SLS.  According to vpFree2.com, the best game as SLS is 8/5 Bonus, whereas Palace Station offers FPDW, 9/6 Jacks, and 8/5 Bonus Progressive.  The player’s club at SLS pays back only 0.20%, and the Boarding Pass pays back 0.30%.

In the article below, SLS acknowledges the local Las Vegas player is more knowledgeable, so then SLS needs to offer things that can compete with other local offerings.

The SLS is also doomed by its location.  It needs the area to develop in order to draw more foot traffic. Without this tourist foot traffic, the SLS is not enough of a draw on its own.

MGM REIT speculation heats up

The dominoes are falling as MGM is now being pushed publicly by real estate fund manager Land and Buildings to spin off its real estate assets into a real estate investment trust. An MGM REIT would have a dramatic impact on the Las Vegas market as MGM is the largest hotelier in the city and dominates certain areas of the Las Vegas strip.  I believe if MGM converted to a REIT, it would focus the new REIT on ways to grow its assets, which would mean a greater investment in Las Vegas and a greater intensification of its properties on the strip.  If one considers the excess undeveloped land holdings that MGM owns and the parking space that is currently underutilized, with the value of that property in the hands of a REIT, I think it makes sense for those excess land holdings to be developed.  This would mean greater development at the south end of the strip including space at Mandalay Bay, Luxor, and Excalibur. At the north end of the strip, there is a lot of potential in Circus Circus and the festival lands on the corner of Sahara & the Strip.

As this process unfolds, I wonder about the role of Kirk Kerkorian who is age 97 and who owns about 20% of MGM Resorts International.

Golden Gate Las Vegas Tip

I’m staying at the Golden Gate on Fremont Street in Las Vegas this week.  My room is on the second floor with the window facing Main Street.  The Fremont Street Experience puts on a series of concerts each night, and the music gets pretty loud and pretty late.  Since the Golden Gate is a small hotel/casino, the hotel offices are also on the second floor.  While waiting for the elevator this morning, I ran into Mark Brandenburg, who is 40% owner of the Golden Gate. As a good host would, he said good morning and asked me where I was from.  I replied Toronto, but I spend a lot of time in Vegas, and asked him how his occupancy was this week.  He smiled and told me it was good, about 90%.  He asked me how I was enjoying my stay, and I told him it was good, but my room faces Main Street and the concerts at night are really loud.  He suggested earplugs, but I replied that the concerts are so loud that even earplugs might not be enough.  Then he suggested asking for a courtyard facing room next time.  Now that’s a good Vegas tip!