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Deal Me In


About those resort fees…

Dear Mark: I would like to take exception to your column last week as regards to resort fees. I manage the pool at a Las Vegas casino, and I can tell you that today’s pool setting is not your Motel 6, let alone a casino hotel of 15 years ago. You should have taken into consideration that just because a player does not use any of our facilities, the costs of the building and maintenance of the world-class amenities our casino provides do not go away. Could you please not mention my name or the casino that I work for if you decide to publish my comments? Thank you. Anonymous


At the outset, as for both you and your hotel/casino remaining anonymous, I’m down with that. Upstairs management, rightfully, does not want just any employee taking over the public relations department.

As for me not “taking into consideration that just because a player does not use any of our facilities, the costs of the building and maintenance of the world-class amenities our casino provides do not go away,” oh, but I do.

I live on a golf course, and pay a pretty penny to do so. And yet, I do NOT golf, nor do I use any of the course amenities, at all. The occasional wayward ball I come across while taking an evening stroll – I’ve been told the Titleist Pro V1x are worth some ka-ching – doesn’t even come close to covering any of my homeowners association fees.

Furthermore, allow me to post some poolside pricing from one receipt a reader sent me from the Encore Beach Club. Let’s begin with a bottle of Grey Goose vodka ($695.00), followed by a Mag of Grey Goose ($1295.00). Multiple bottles of Corona and Heineken at $12.00 a pop; a pitcher of John Daly for $297.00; Frozen daiquiris at $19 each. One bottle of Ciroc Berry vodka for $675. Huh, look here: seems they waived the price of the cabana ($0.00). With a bit of luck, probably not, what happened in this Vegas cabana, stayed in Vegas.

Granted, this receipt was not from the casino/resort where you work, but with mark-up pricing at 25X what I am paying off the shelf at my local party store, I continue to have a problem with a casino that wants to charge me a $30 nightly fee for NOT using their swimming hole. Just sayin.’


Dear Mark: I am glad that Reno is still giving away freebies. I just visited this past May and was comped for three nights at the Peppermill. The Peppermill is a beautiful casino, great pool and eateries. I am not a 'whale,' and visit Reno, at most, twice a year. I usually 'donate' and have not gotten a royal flush on video poker in 11 years. At all the Reno casino bars, I was NOT charged for a drinks while I was playing video poker. I did have a 'hold' put on my credit card for the resort fee, but after a few days at home, I checked the bank and the fee was NOT deducted. Gerry P.


Reno has always been a competitive market, which certainly benefits the low-roller. True, those $0.99 breakfast specials at the Club Cal Neva are long gone, along with many other ultra-low-priced food deals from yesteryear, but I just can’t imagine a Reno casino charging for a drink while you’re playing video poker at the casino bar.

As you well know, Gerry, Reno, besides now having three In-N-Out Burger locations, still has plenty to offer the bargain player, and I would encourage those that are choosing between Reno/Tahoe and Las Vegas, to give Northern Nevada a second look.


Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “Comps are the Marxist dialectic of casino play. The haves lord it over the have-nots, and the have-nots want what the haves have.” – Frank Scoblete


Change only happens when customers demand it

Dear Mark: After reading some of your recent columns about gambling in the Detroit Free Press after a recent trip to Vegas, I thought I would share some observations of how Vegas is prying more money out of our pockets.

Regarding ways to pass time at low cost, as I have done in the past, I sat down and played video poker at a bar mounted machine, and ordered a beer. I got an $8.50 bill for a 12oz beer. I asked why I had to pay if I was gambling and was told drinks are now free only on the casino floor.

Add on the "resort fee" most casinos are charging (which, by the way, wouldn't entitle me to use the driving range on their golf course), and you can clearly see why each trip to Vegas seems to be becoming more expensive. Gary M.


Once upon a time, Gary, there was an implied contract between the casino and the player that the casino would offer the gambler free beverages, $3.49 feeding frenzies in the buffet, and $0.99 denizens of the deep for players who were willing to put their hard-earned money in play. That contract in now null-and-void.

Actually, one former Las Vegas casino operator, Bob Stupak, warned us years ago when he intoned the realities of casino gambling in US News and World Report by stating, “It’s our duty to extract as much money from the customer as we can.” Bravo! At least this past owner came clean on the realities of casino gambling.

Today, casinos have raised the hold percentages, cut club benefits/comps, tightened video poker paytables, and tried to cram 6/5 Blackjack down our throats all while cutting the perks, a PBR no less, for our play.

The casino industry I was weaned from was built on fair gambling, cheap food, free spirits and great customer service. Say goodbye to that! Corporate America now runs gambling, ruled by bean counters whose sole purpose is to control expenses while procuring more profits for the house.

Here is where you come in, Gary. Your $8.50 drink is a non-gaming amenity that financially complements the casino’s gambling operation, which their accountants believe provides growth. Your $8.50 cocktail used to be a loss-leader, now it is a profitable part of their business.

Personally, I believe $8.50 for a Pabst Blue Ribbon while a patron is playing video poker at a casino bar STINKS!  I get that food prices won’t retreat to my early years in gaming, but before I get out of this business as I close in on 40 years, wishful thinking on my part hopes that we will see a return to the basics of focusing on honest gambling and excellent customer service. Such as Rule #1: the customer is always right. Followed by Rule #2: if the customer is wrong, see Rule #1.  

As to your mentioned “resort fees,” they are a (usually unadvertised) mandatory fee tacked onto your nightly room rate. In Las Vegas, you will be hard-pressed to find any hotel that does not charge them.

In addition to your nightly room rate, you are now being "asked" to shell out an extra $5 to $30 a night in fees. Furthermore, there are some Vegas hotels happy to charge you a little something extra above the resort fee for a guaranteed room type, early check-in, late check-out, even for double beds, all taxed, mind you, after they are added. This gives off the odor of ordure, too!

All I can recommend here, Gary, is to make sure you read the fine print before you book your room. Resort fees tend to be omitted from advertised rates.

Also, there is no harm in trying to get those resort fees waived, especially if you advise management that you do not intend to use any of the facilities. You will be more successful if you have status with the hotel/casino loyalty program or work directly with a casino host.


Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “When we put 50 machines in, I consider them 50 more mousetraps. You have to have a mousetrap to catch a mouse.” —Bob Stupak, former Las Vegas casino owner