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Survey: Fewer locals avoiding Las Vegas Strip due to parking fees

Updated May 16, 2019 - 11:22 pm

Las Vegas resident Chad Carter refuses to pay for parking on the Strip.

“Before the fees were instated, I would drop in to MGM Grand, Bellagio, Mandalay Bay and Flamingo several times a week,” he said. “Now I don’t go there at all.”

While paid parking still receives hostility from some locals, a recent survey from the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance shows Clark County residents may be growing less averse to the fees.

The LVGEA’s 2019 Community Survey, released this week, reported a dip in the number of respondents who avoid Strip services and casinos that charge for parking compared with last year. But just how big is that drop?

Last year, the LVGEA reported 66 percent of locals avoid Strip casinos that charge for parking and avoid using any service from a Strip casino that charges for parking. This year, that has fallen to 53.4 percent of locals.

Limited comparability

But this year’s survey gave respondents the option to select “I do not go to the Strip” — which wasn’t available in 2018’s survey. It received 11 percent of the votes.

Brian Gordon of Applied Analysis warned the addition may skew a comparison.

“It appears the question structure differed between periods, limiting the comparability of the results,” Gordon said via email.

The added question likely plays a big role in the drop in people who said they avoid paying for Strip parking, said Anthony Curtis, the founder of Las Vegas Advisor, a newsletter that tracks gaming and resort developments.

Still, if the 11 percent had instead said they avoid the Strip, there would still be a 2 percentage point drop in the number of people who avoid services and casinos that charge for parking compared with last year.

The LVGEA declined to comment for this story. According to the methodology published, members of the Clark County workforce were surveyed, which excludes retirees, students and other unemployed workers. The sample size for both the 2018 and 2019 surveys was 500, with a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.

Curtis said that no matter how large the drop was, the survey still shows a majority of locals are upset with paid parking on the Strip.

That includes Tom Pollard, who has been living in Las Vegas since 2005. He said he and his wife used to visit the Strip frequently, but now they prefer to visit Boyd Gaming Corp. or Station Casinos properties.

“We have plenty of alternatives in town,” Pollard said. “If they’re going to charge me to park, I won’t go.”

Wynn Resorts Ltd. nixed its self-parking fees this month. Pollard said he hasn’t been to a Wynn property in more than 18 months because of its parking policy but has plans to go this weekend now that there’s no fee.

Impact on the Strip

The survey also showed a decline in the number of locals who avoid attending sporting and entertainment events on the Strip, down from 50 to 47 percent.

Pollard said he breaks his rule of avoiding parking fees when he’s on the Strip only for a show or hockey game.

“I do believe people are still going down there (even with parking fees in place) because they like the restaurants and the high-end stuff that’s available,” he said.

Curtis said it’s possible some are beginning to warm up to the fees.

“Are people starting to accept it? I guess that’d be natural,” he said. Still, “people in the know are going to gravitate away from the places that continue to gouge them in certain ways.”

Growth in ride hailing

The fees may also be helping to fuel ride-hailing services like Lyft and Uber.

The number of respondents who use ride-hailing services to go to the Strip increased 5 percentage points from last year’s LVGEA survey.

Merriam Olds, a Las Vegas resident for more than 20 years, said she uses Uber when she goes to the Strip to avoid parking fees.

“I’m disappointed the parking fees have been installed,” she said. “Uber is like valet in that sense. It’s worth it not to have to go through a parking garage.”

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0233. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

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