As pockets of new COVID-19 cases pop up around the world, there has still been significant improvement in battling the pandemic. The casino industry has been waiting a year to be able to return to normal and, although some parts of the industry are still going to have to wait a little longer, Las Vegas is coming back to life. MGM Resorts International just announced that it is returning all of its Strip casinos to 100%, but visitors should be ready for additional fees. The casino operator also announced that it is going to reinstate parking fees at its properties and apparently wants gamblers to pay for its recovery.
MGM Resorts Back in Action
It’s been a long time coming; the casino shutdown last year was only supposed to last about a month or so, but everyone underestimated the power a little virus could wield. Now, shortly after Las Vegas casinos were able to increase their capacities to 80%, MGM Resorts is going full throttle and has received permission from the Nevada Gaming Control Board to take its gaming floors to 100%. Other areas of the company’s properties in Vegas, including restaurants, pools and more, will have to stay at 80% and maintain social distancing guidelines. The increase applies to the company’s Bellagio, ARIA, MGM Grand Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay, Park MGM, The Mirage, New York-New York, Luxor and Excalibur properties.
MGM was given the green light following a concerted effort to have its employees vaccinated. These casinos now join Wynn Resorts’ two Strip properties, the Cosmopolitan and the Strat Casino and Tower, which had already been allowed to return to 100%. Joining MGM in the latest return is Station Casinos, as it announced yesterday that its Red Rock, Green Valley Ranch, Palace Station, Boulder Station, Sunset Station and Santa Fe Station properties have been approved to take their casino floors back to 100%.
Return of Gamblers, Return of Fees
Not long before the coronavirus pandemic started, debates had begun over fees many resorts had been charging their guests and several Attorneys General had even gotten involved, launching legal attacks over hidden fees. As MGM returns to 100%, it’s ready to do whatever is necessary to make up for lost time and recover missing revenue, even if it means reintroducing parking fees. The company has also come under fire for its resort fees, but feels that they’re necessary. Parking fees at area resorts can be quite expensive, running as much as $18 a day. For those who want to avoid the extra fees, Caesars Entertainment offers free parking for Nevada residents, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and other properties in Sin City will continue to offer free parking, as well.
MGM just picked up $400 million that it hopes will help it rebound, along with the parking fees. It announced that it will sell the real estate assets under the MGM Springfield, but the deal stays close to home. The assets are being sold to MGM Growth Properties, its own real estate investment trust (REIT). MGM will then lease the property from REIT, in which it holds a 42% stake, through a master lease agreement already in place between the two. That agreement is now worth $30 million a year to MGM Growth.