When Virgin Hotels Las Vegas opens its off-Strip casino-hotel on March 25, it will not charge resort fees and it will provide free parking. Guests also get free Wi-Fi.
On Friday, Virgin Hotels explained in a statement that not adding resort fees is an “effort to dazzle guests.” That is in contrast to many other casinos which have been criticized for the extra charges.
The move is necessary given the downturn in reservations and drop in gross gaming revenue (GGR) faced by Las Vegas gaming properties since last year’s COVID-19 outbreak, according to the Rev. Richard McGowan, a Boston College finance professor who closely follows gambling trends.
“Casinos are in desperate need of increasing the amount of traffic and customers,” McGowan told Casino.org. “Since the casino is hoping that half of its income will come from non-gaming activities, these charges are easy to absorb.”
The move could be copied at other Las Vegas gaming properties. Some already eliminated such fees under certain conditions.
Last June, M Resort in Henderson, a Penn National Gaming property some nine miles south of the Las Vegas Strip, decided not to charge its $25 nightly resort fee through the summer months.
Also, MGM Resorts, the Strip’s largest operator, announced last May it was restoring free parking at all of its casinos. Additionally, Sahara Las Vegas removed its resort fee for all stays through May 31, 2021 if bookings were made by the end of last June.
As of last year, some of the Station Casinos properties were also waiving resort fees for locals with certain restrictions in place.
Virgin Hotels Move Puts Pressure on Competing Properties
McGowan said that Virgin Hotels not charging for parking nor asking for resort fees, “certainly puts pressure on them [other casinos] to do likewise.”
In 2019, numerous guests complained on Casino.org about the extra fees being placed on their bills. As of 2019, resort charges were as high as $45 a day, and more fees were predicted.
Last June, Lauren Wolfe, founder of Kill Resort Fees and counsel at Travelers United, said that Sahara and M Resort were “making a smart pro-consumer move to bring in business.
“They know customers hate resort fees, and they’ve taken steps to get rid of them at this time in an attempt to bring back business,” Wolfe told Casino.org last year.
Also, Richard “Boz” Bosworth, president & CEO of JC Hospitality, which owns Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, said in the company statement, “We are so proud to be one of the first major casino-resorts in Las Vegas without a resort fee.”
None of the Virgin Hotels charge resort fees. Wi-Fi is also free throughout the chain.
Drinks and snacks found in minibars are “street priced,” the company added in the statement.
But as of 2019, many resorts in various US locations were charging extra fees, according to Anthony Cabot, Distinguished Fellow in Gaming Law at UNLV’s law school. These included locations such as Hawaii, New York City, and Los Angeles.
$200M Renovations for Delayed, Rebranded Hotel
For the past year, Virgin Hotels has been undergoing a $200 million renovation. When it opens, it will feature over 1,500 rooms located in three hotel towers.
It will also feature a 60,000-square-foot gaming floor operated by Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment.
Two previously scheduled openings for the former Hard Rock Hotel and Casino were postponed mostly due to coronavirus-related concerns.
The most-recent delayed opening was supposed to take place on Jan. 15. Earlier, the opening date was planned for last November.
Last year was the worst year in decades for Las Vegas Strip casinos. GGR of $3.73 billion was the lowest gaming haul since 1999.
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