Heading to Las Vegas? Casino Parking Will No Longer Be Free.

The cost to visit Las Vegas is about to climb if you choose to stay at one of MGM Resort’s 12 properties along the Strip. Within the next few months, free parking will disappear at all major MGM properties, including MGM Grand, Bellagio and The Mirage.

In an announcement made on Friday, MGM Resorts’ revealed they will be “enhancing the guest parking experience by introducing a modest parking fee program for valet and self-parking, to provide significant improvements to the overall resort experience.”

According to the release, the move is a response to “changing customer tastes and demands.”

Corey Sanders, the Chief Operating Officer of MGM Resorts told the Associated Press, “there will be initial backlash, but a month from now, three months from now, people will completely forget about it.”

But will they?

T-Mobile Arena Las Vegas Parking

If you’re wondering why MGM Resorts would tamper with one of Sin City’s longest-held freebies, there’s an easy answer. The brand new T-Mobile Arena. Located directly behind the Monte Carlo and New York-New York resorts, both MGM Grand properties, the 20,000 seat venue will open April 6th.

It’s expected to be impressive, modern, and high-tech, hosting the biggest entertainment events and potentially being the home of an NHL expansion team, but here’s the catch: a parking garage was never built for it.

Journalists and locals alike had questioned the move, however, MGM Resorts told guests not to worry about it. MGM prided themselves by stating that they had multiple resorts within walking distance to the new arena, all of which had spacious parking structures that were more than capable of handling the bump in traffic during events at the new venue. However, that just wasn’t true.

MGM Resorts new parking structure

Between the new T-Mobile Arena and The Park development being built around it, the current parking situation simply isn’t enough to handle the influx of traffic. The parking garages as-is can barely fit enough cars on holiday weekends and special events, let alone with the addition of a new Linq-like center and massive 20,000 seat venue.

Therefore, in addition to the announcement of the new pay-to-park policies, MGM Resorts also revealed plans to construct a new parking garage after all—although it won’t be finished until a year after the arena opens. The structure will be built near the Excalibur with the purpose of handling overflow traffic, and will hold approximately 3,000 cars.

MGM Resorts claims the new parking garage will cost $54-million to build, and is charging for parking on the Strip as part of the “strategy to offset the building costs.

Melissa Rogers, TheJetSettersGuide.com

What to Expect:

The full rate list has’t been released yet, but the price will be $10 for self-parking overnight to hotel guests, and $17 for valet.

The MGM properties charging for both self-parking and valet will include: Aria, Bellagio, Delano, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, The Mirage, Monte Carlo, New York-New York and Vdara. The only two hotel not on the list? Circus Circus and The Signature towers at MGM Grand. These two hotels located at the northern-most part of the Strip and one block off the Strip respectively, are not expected to charge for self-parking, but will charge the $17 for valet.

When will the fees begin?

MGM Resorts has remained tight-lipped on an exact date the new pay-to-park policies will begin, however they will officially say it will take place the “second quarter of 2016.” If all goes to plan, expect to begin paying as early as April 1st.

Photo: Melissa Rogers TheJetSettersGuide.com

What will Happen?

With the new system, guests can expect an increased time to park, as there may be backups due to guests printing tickets upon arrival and paying as they leave. Furthermore, with valet increasing from free to $17, expect more guests to park, making finding available spaces increasingly difficult.

The challenges will likely trickle down to guests who are without cars as well. Rumors are already swirling from locals, that Uber and taxis will be increasing their ride fares to counter the expected rising demand.

The gist: expect parking to take up to 3x as long, and the line for taxis and Ubers to increase up to 200% in just a matter of months.

Are other hotels considering pay-parking?

MGM Resorts main competitor on the Strip, Caesars Entertainment, has been suspiciously quiet on the matter, which isn’t a good sign. Given Caesars is currently $18.4 billion dollars in debt, this could be a new way for the cash-strapped corporation to eliminate a portion of their debt.

Wynn Resorts isn’t commenting either.

However, one good sign is the Cosmopolitan, SLS Las Vegas, and Sands Corporation (Venetian and Palazzo) have announced they have no plans to charge for parking. At least for now.

After all, MGM is famous for making decisions that are unpopular with the public, just like how they were the first ones to introduce resort fees, which are now common among all properties along the Strip.

Regardless of what happens, it’s clear that the gaming industry will be watching closely to see how everything plays out.

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