LAS VEGAS – The pandemic may have forced a shutdown of the Strip – but it’s also resurrected a relic of old Las Vegas: free parking.
MGM Resorts, operator of a dozen properties in this gambling and entertainment capital, announced Monday the return of the treasured amenity, reports the Reno Gazette Journal, which is a part of the USA TODAY Network.
“MGM Resorts is updating many of our offerings as we prepare to welcome guests back, and that includes implementing free parking,” the company said in a statement.
A start date has not been disclosed. In the wake of COVID-19, MGM won’t open all hotels at once, but rather start with two or three targeted at different traveler budgets.
The first two resorts that will reopen with free parking when shutdown orders are lifted? New York-New York Hotel & Casino, a midprice hotel on the south end of the Strip with a roller coaster, arcade and Irish pub, and Bellagio, the luxury mid-Strip resort that’s home to the famous fountain show, high-end shops and restaurants, a conservatory and a museum.
Parking strategy swing
In 2016, a majority of casino companies started charging tourists to keep their cars in the parking garages of Strip properties, a move that raised concerns that free parking would soon fade away.
In 2019, after experimenting with a paid parking model, Wynn Resorts broke ranks with the bulk of hotel-casinos on the Strip and announced free self-parking would resume at its Wynn and Encore resorts.
MGM Resorts will soon join a small group of resort neighbors — Treasure Island, SLS Las Vegas, Wynn, Encore, Venetian and Palazzo — that offer free self-parking.
In an email, Caesars Entertainment declined to comment on whether the company would join the unfolding free parking trend.
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Paid parking has been a center of frustration of tourists remembering the old days.
“The parking fees are a gigantic deal for everybody. They gripe all the time about things they don’t like. They hate resort fees. They hate paid parking worse,” Anthony Curtis, founder of LasVegasAdvisor.com, told the USA TODAY Network.
One solution to paid parking woes has been avoiding casino-resorts that charge for parking, according to a 2018 Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance survey.
Data revealed almost 37 percent of respondents avoid parking at Strip casinos that charge for parking. About 7 percent said they visit the same hotel-casinos regardless of parking fee policies.
Ed Komenda writes about Las Vegas for the Reno Gazette Journal and USA Today Network.
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This article originally appeared on Reno Gazette Journal: Coronavirus: MGM Resorts says Las Vegas Strip free parking coming back