weather icon Clear

Using a Las Vegas Strip hotel minibar can cost up to $75 — VIDEO

Updated April 19, 2019 - 7:00 am

Storing that leftover pizza inside a hotel minibar fridge can cost you as much as $75 on the Las Vegas Strip.

The fee is meant to deter guests from gaming the minibars in their rooms, hotel operators and analysts said.

Some guests remove minibar items to keep their personal food or drinks — bought at nearby convenience stores for half the price — fresh and cool.

“I probably wouldn’t even bring food back because as soon as you open that door, you are screwed,” said California resident Ray Gertsch, who was staying at Caesars Palace Wednesday. “It only took me one time to learn my lesson.”

Minibar fees received renewed attention last month on social media when Twitter user @LasVegasLocally posted a photo of a Caesars Palace sign about the $75 fee.

“Wow, that’s excessive,” Twitter user @DarthShadow2 responded.

Another user was sympathetic.

“Idiots remove the stuff from the minibar to put all their personal crap in, later claim thinking it was a personal fridge. It’s about time!” wrote user @D_motta77.

Caesars Entertainment Corp operates nine properties in Las Vegas, but has minibars in just two high-end properties, Caesars Palace and Cromwell.

Most minibars in use on the Strip are installed with sensors that automatically charge a guest when an item is removed for longer than 45 seconds, enough time for a person to read the label and decide whether to consume it. The charge remains even if the item is placed back in the minibar.

Caesars has been charging a fee for personal use since 2005, the company said.

“This fee was instituted because guests were emptying their minibars to place personal items inside — resulting in waste and additional labor costs to restock them. In order to make sure we are upfront with our guests, and to make our employees’ jobs less tedious, we have placed the notice as a reminder that minibars are not to be used for personal reasons,” said Caesars Entertainment spokeswoman Jennifer Forkish.

MGM Resorts International’s high-end properties such as Aria, Bellagio and Mandalay Bay charge $50 for storing personal goods in the minibar.

“They should just have another mini-fridge for personal use or not put so much stuff in the minbar,” said Tracy Giaccetti, who was visiting Las Vegas Wednesday for a conference and staying at Caesars. Giaccetti said she avoids the minibar because of its high prices.

Suites in many Strip properties offer refrigerators for personal use alongside minibars. The Cosmopolitan offers refrigerators as well as minibars in all of its rooms. Palazzo and The Venetian offer guests a shelf in their minibars to store personal items, but warn they are not necessarily cool enough for medication or baby formula, said spokesman Keith Salwoski.

UNLV hospitality professor Mehmet Erdem said charging for personal use of the minibar is a common practice to deter its misuse. He said the fee charged by Caesars and Cromwell is fair.

“The $75 fee for misusing the minibar is probably reasonable when one considers the additional labor such situations could create for guest room attendants as well as other staff, such as delays in cleaning-up the room, re-stocking items in the minibar — especially when it is hard to tell if they have been tampered with,” Erdem said.

Michael McCall at Michigan State University disagreed, saying high fees aren’t worth the harm it can do to customer loyalty.

“This is a really bad idea that will only incense customers. They are likely to be quite vocal and the front desk will spend more time reversing these charges. Personally, I would eliminate the minibar,” McCall said.

Guests needing to store personal items can rent refrigerators from upscale Strip properties such as Wynn Las Vegas and Aria for between $25 and $40 and from mass-market hotels such as Flamingo and Luxor for between $15 and $25. For comparison, a new Insignia mini refrigerator can be purchased just off the Strip at Best Buy for $90.

More than half of Strip hotels offer refrigerators free to guests who need one to keep medicine cool. Gertsch said he used a free one from Caesars to store insulin.

Mass-market hotels don’t offer minibars in their standard rooms because their cost-conscious guests are unlikely to pay $12 for water and soda they can buy on the street for $3, said Bruno Agrario, vice president of sales and marketing at Bartech, whose minibars are in use in about 40,000 rooms in Las Vegas.

Bartech offers trays for mass-market hotels that are cheaper to operate, enabling them to offer water and other items at more affordable prices, Agrario said.


Before sensors were installed, the cost of operating minibars was greater than the revenue generated because of the large workforce needed to maintain them as well as misuse and theft, Agrario said. Staff would have to carry all minbar items on a cart and stop at each room to check daily use.

A worker can, on average, service about 100 minibars a day, Agrario said.

That would imply that most Strip properties with 3,000 to 4,000 rooms would need 30 to 40 employees if they had to check all their minibars daily . With a minimum union salary of $25 an hour, including benefits, that would cost a Strip resort as much as $2 million a year in labor.

The sensors notify the hotel what items have been moved or removed, enabling staff to visit just those rooms with just the particular items touched.

Only about a third of Las Vegas rooms have daily minibar use, according to Agrario, meaning Strip properties with automatic minibars — and fee policies that deter misuse — need just 10 to 13 employees on average to maintain them, saving properties as much as $1.3 million a year.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates The Venetian and Palazzo.

Contact Todd Prince at 702-383-0386 or tprince@reviewjournal.com. Follow @toddprincetv on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
How much do Las Vegas casino CEOs make?
Las Vegas gaming CEOs made anywhere between $1 million and $24 million last year, according to company filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. ((Las Vegas Review-Journal)
30-year-old Rio needs a little TLC
Nearly 30 years after the Rio opened, the red and blue jewel that helped catapult Las Vegas to a new level with its buffet and nightclub has lost its status along with its shine.
The latest on the Drew Las Vegas - VIDEO
Eli Segall recounts his tour of the Drew Las Vegas, formerly the Fontainebleau, on the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pinball Hall of Fame to move near south Strip
Operators of the Pinball Hall of Fame have been approved to build a new, larger arcade near the south edge of the Strip on Las Vegas Boulevard near Russel Road. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
National Hardware Show underway Las Vegas
The National Hardware Show kicked off Tuesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Caesars for sale?
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has been swept up in takeover speculation since the company’s share price tumbled last year amid disappointing earnings and concerns over a recession. Amid the decline, hedge funds scooped up shares. Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn began buying shares of Caesars as early as January. Icahn acquired nearly 18 percent by mid-March. In February Icahn called on the Caesars board to study a sale as a way to boost shareholder value.
Las Vegas home prices
Las Vegas home prices grew fastest among major markets in February for the ninth straight month. But amid affordability concerns, the growth rate has slowed down. Southern Nevada prices in February were up 9.7% from a year earlier, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index. The last time Las Vegas' price growth fell below 10% was in September 2017, S&P Dow Jones Indices reported.
Free Parking Coming To Wynn
Free parking will come to the Wynn and Encore resorts on May 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Founding Venetian employees talk about 20 years at the Strip resort
The Venetian, which opened May 3, 1999, is celebrating 20 years on the Las Vegas Strip. Seven original employees talk about opening the luxury resort and working there for two decades. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Circa aiming for December 2020 opening
The 1.25-million-square-foot property will have 44-stories and 777-rooms. It will also have a separate nine-story, 1,201-space parking garage.
Boxabl official explains the building concept
Boxabl business development manager Galiano Tiramani shows off a room built by his company. (Blake Apgar/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TI/Mirage Tram reopens
The tram that shuttles guests between TI and Mirage reopened this week after being closed for much of 2018.
Las Vegas Convention Center expansion taking shape
Renderings and actual footage show how the Las Vegas Convention Center is evolving.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at Las Vegas convention
Former Starbucks CEO and potential presidential candidate Howard Schultz spoke at the Epicor Insights user conference at Mandalay Bay Convention Center Wednesday, April 17, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Drew Las Vegas to open in the second quarter of 2022
The 67-story Drew Las Vegas is slated to open in the second quarter of 2022 at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NAB Day 1 (Time Lapse)
NAB kicked off at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, April 8, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
National Association of Broadcasters Show shows 1mm thick 8K TV with 22.2 channel digital sound
Japan’s NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories booth featured a 1mm thick 8K TV system used in conjunction with a 22.2 channel digital sound system at the National Association of Broadcasters Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Nevada shoppers react to Smith’s no longer accepting Visa credit cards
On March 1, Smith’s announced that it would no longer be accepting Visa credit cards at any of its 142 supermarkets, including the 45 in Nevada.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission asks how long Wynn executives knew about misconduct
Business reporter Rick Velotta gives an update on the adjudicatory hearing on the suitability of Wynn Resorts to retain its gaming license in Massachusetts.
Henderson app developer part of Startup in Residence
Henderson based developers of the app On Point Barricade are taking part in Startup in Residence, a North America program dedicated to pairing tech companies with governments. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sam's Town employees and customers talk of their love for the iconic casino
Longtime Sam's Town employees and customers love each other and love their casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas apartments rents
Las Vegas’ apartment market has accelerated in recent years. Developers are packing the suburbs with projects, landlords are on a buying spree, and tenants have filled buildings.
William Boyd talks about the birth of Sam's Town
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of Sam's Town, William Boyd, executive chairman of Boyd Gaming and son of hotel namesake Sam Boyd, talks about how the casino became one of the first local properties in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
High Roller observation wheel turns five
The world’s tallest observation wheel celebrates it’s fifth year on Sunday, March 31, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Escape Room Industry Growing In Las Vegas
Escapology employees discuss the growing escape room industry in the U.S. and Las Vegas. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Impact of parking fees on visiting the Las Vegas Strip
There are no data showing a relationship between Strip resort and parking fees and the number of out-of-state visitors to Las Vegas. But there are data showing a relationship between Strip parking fees and the number of local visitors to the the Strip. ‘’As a local, I find myself picking hotels I visit for dinner or entertainment, based on whether they charge for parking or not,”’ said David Perisset, the owner of Exotics Racing. ‘’It is not a matter of money, more of principle.’’ A 2018 survey by the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance found 36.9 percent of Clark County residents reported avoiding parking at Strip casinos that charge for parking. 29.1 percent reported avoiding using any services from a Strip casino that charges for parking.
MGM's sports betting deals
MGM Resorts International signed a sports betting sponsorship agreement with the NBA in July It was the first professional sports league to have official ties with a legal sports betting house. The deal came just two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law prohibiting sports betting in most states. In October, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the NHL. In November, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the MLB. Financial terms of Tuesday’s deal and earlier partnerships have not been announced.
Faraday puts Las Vegas land on the market
Nearly two years after Faraday Future bailed on its North Las Vegas auto factory, the company has put its land up for sale. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
El Cortez owner Kenny Epstein on running the iconic property
Kenny Epstein, owner of the El Cortez Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, talks about Jackie Gaughan mentorship and answers rumors about bodies in the basement at the mob-era casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
LVCVA recommends construction of underground people mover
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced the recommendation for an underground people mover for the convention center. The system would have the potential to expand and connect Downtown and the resort corridor all the way to McCarran. (Michael Quine/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lucky Dragon’s foreign investors demand refund

The Lucky Dragon’s developers and prior management are facing lawsuits from Chinese investors, the project’s main lender and a Canadian high-roller who paid a $400,000 deposit to lease the casino just one month before it abruptly closed.