If you were gambling at a Las Vegas casino during the COVID-19 pandemic, you were dealing with reduced capacity, plexiglass dividers, mandatory masks, and a host of other restrictions in play that were used to help keep patrons safe.
But at least there was free parking.
Was being the operative word as MGM Resorts announced that it will start charging for parking again in June. The move comes as gaming regulators approved the company to open its Strip casinos at 100% capacity.
In 2016, both MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment announced that the two companies would start implementing parking fees at their Las Vegas Strip resorts. The two gaming giants made up the overwhelming majority of Las Vegas Boulevard.
Then the coronavirus made its way to the United States. The pandemic caused Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak to temporarily shutter the state’s gaming industry and when it reopened, there was a limited number of people willing to travel to Las Vegas casinos out of fear of the virus.
In response to the decreased demand, MGM and Caesars both dropped the parking fee to help spark interest in coming back to Sin City.
Now that the tourism industry is rebounding, gamblers are coming back to the casinos and there is less of an incentive to keep parking free. According to a report from Yahoo!, Las Vegas is the top destination for road trips and the second-most popular destination for Memorial Day vacations.
Caesars brough some parking fees back in October, but it was still complimentary for Nevada residents and hotel guests. There hasn’t been any indication that it will change any time soon. It is possible that MGM will implement similar measures at their properties. Before the pandemic, fees ranged between $18 and $30 per day, depending on whether the car was parked with valet or the self-parking structure.
Of the 28 casinos on Las Vegas Boulevard, 17 are owned by Caesars and MGM. Nine of those belong to MGM.