Updated May 11, 2021 - 11:45 am
One of the few perks to emerge from Las Vegas’ pandemic-related casino shutdowns — free parking — is on its way out.
Paid event parking at select MGM Resorts International properties is set to return this month, followed by the return of paid self-parking at all of the company’s Strip properties starting June 1. Locals will have free parking for the first three hours, a new policy from the company.
“Service and business needs are changing rapidly as Las Vegas continues its recovery,” reads a Monday statement from MGM Resorts. “We’re focused on expanding our amenities and workforce to accommodate increasing numbers of guests as demand grows and visitation continues rising.”
The impact of parking fees
MGM Resorts was the driving force behind paid parking on the Strip in 2016, to the ire of many locals. By January 2018, one to two hours of parking at the Delano, Mandalay Bay, the MGM Grand, The Mirage, Monte Carlo or New York-New York cost $9. Two to four hours cost $12, and the day rate was $15.
In May, during Nevada’s casino shutdown, MGM Resorts announced that it would reopen with free parking at its Strip resorts for the foreseeable future. At the time, the Strip market was largely dependent on drive-in customers, and free parking had turned into a common incentive to get visitors back on the Strip.
Amanda Belarmino, an assistant professor at UNLV’s school of hospitality, warned that operators reviving paid parking for locals could turn away customers.
“The lack of conventions and business travel means that Las Vegas will continue to be dependent on leisure travel and local clientele,” she said. “If the Amtrak does open between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, the casino operators may need to rethink charging for parking as the demand for parking may go down, and it may be worthwhile to foster the goodwill of local patrons.”
It remains to be seen how MGM Resorts’ switch will affect business, but the new policy seems to have had local visitors at front of mind, with self-parking free to locals for the first three hours — enough time to catch a show or dine.
Brendan Bussmann, a consultant with Global Market Advisors, said he had hoped that the pandemic would do away with parking fees on the Strip, which he said hurt Las Vegas’ competitive edge with other markets.
“Las Vegas has always been about the customer experience. Whether you are a local or a tourist, if the process is not easy or nickel and dimes you, people will go a different direction,” he said. “However, there will likely be some operators that became dependent on that line item and will hope that returns.”
Starting June 1, just the first hour of parking will be free at MGM Resorts properties. Self-parking fees at the Bellagio, Aria and Vdara start at $15 for one to four hours, then jump to $18 for four to 24 hours. Each additional day is another $18. The remaining MGM properties start charging at $12, then jump to $15 for four to 24 hours and another $15 for each additional day.
Free self-parking will remain available to M life Rewards members with Pearl status or higher and M life Rewards Mastercard holders, as well as to those who have served in the military and their spouses through the M life Rewards Military & Veterans Program.
MGM Resorts is set to begin paid parking for events this month when the Vegas Golden Knights begin their Stanley Cup Playoff games at T-Mobile Arena, tentatively starting May 19. Park Theater shows and events at Park MGM, New York-New York, Aria, the MGM Grand, Excalibur, Luxor and Mandalay Bay also will start charging for event parking.
Event parking will be cashless. Paid parking for Vegas Golden Knights games ranges from $10 prepaid at Luxor to $30 for on-demand parking at Park MGM and New York-New York. Park Theater shows will be $15 prepaid, $20 on demand and $25 for valet. All other events range from $15 to $25, depending on the property and whether the fee was prepaid or on demand.
Valet parking is also making a comeback starting May 25 at select properties: Aria, Vdara, the Bellagio and the MGM Grand. The remaining MGM properties will offer valet parking starting June 1. Valet parking will be cashless, and complimentary for Gold, Platinum and Noir M life members.
Valet at the Bellagio, Aria and Vdara starts at $21 for up to two hours on a weekday, with prices rising to $25 for two to four hours and $30 for four to 24 hours and each additional day. Fridays through Sundays, the properties charge $25 for up to two hours and an additional $5 in every other category.
The remaining MGM Resorts properties charge $18 for up to two hours of valet service on weekdays and $20 on weekends. Two to four hours is $22 on weekdays and $24 on weekends, four to 24 hours is $26 on weekdays and $30 on weekends and each additional day is $26 on weekdays or $30 on weekends. Event valet parking costs $25 at Park MGM and New York-New York.
Parking around the Strip
Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, Treasure Island, Circus Circus, Sahara Las Vegas, The Strat, the Tropicana and Strip properties operated by Wynn Resorts Ltd. and Las Vegas Sands Corp. continue to offer complimentary self-parking.
When asked Monday, a Caesars spokesperson said self-parking at Caesars Entertainment’s Las Vegas resorts will remain free for Nevada residents with valid identification, hotel guests and Caesars Reward loyalty members at platinum rating and above.
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas started incorporating its parking fee into the resort fee in 2019 but has since started offering complimentary self and valet parking for hotel guests. It has also waived paid self parking for all nonhotel guests, according to its website. A spokesperson said Monday that the property will continue to offer free parking “at this time.”