AGA not currently taking official position on Hotel Fees Transparency Act

August 2, 2023
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The bill aims to crack down on resort fees, requiring hotels to advertise a single, final price for a stay.

Aiming to crack down on resort fees, US Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) recently introduced legislation that would require hotels to advertise a single price when customers book lodgings. 

The bill, the Hotel Fees Transparency Act, is being swept up into President Biden’s populist campaign to eliminate hidden “junk fees” that surprise Americans at checkout.  

The American Gaming Association (AGA), representing the US gambling industry, steadfastly maintains that resort fees are not junk fees, and should not be lumped into the President’s discussion.  

Said Alex Costello, the AGA's VP of Government Relations, “Resort fees are paying for a resort experience and they’re disclosed. We would argue resort fees don’t fall under that junk category.” 

The AGA, however, has not taken a position, at this time, on the senators’ bill. Costello said the AGA will be monitoring it, of course.  

But for the time being, the association is maintaining its relationship with the bill’s authors and pressing its argument that the resort fees charged by US casinos provide value, by transparently delineating what services they pay for.  

Costello said the AGA worked with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2012 to develop a resort fee disclosure standard that association members closely follow to this day. That standard, she said, clearly discloses resort fees and what they pay for, giving customers the ability to choose the kind of resort experience they wish to have.  

In October 2022, the FTC asked for public comment on “whether it should explore a rule regarding the harms caused by junk fees and the unfair or deceptive tactics companies use to impose them.”  

On February 8, 2023, William C. Miller, the President and CEO of AGA wrote to the FTC. He wrote, “(A) ‘junk fee’ is defined as fees that are charged for, ‘goods or services that have little or no added value to the customer.’

"However, resort fees at our members’ properties are charged for services that provide substantial value to customers, enhance the quality of their stay and distinguish resorts from standard lodging offerings. While resort fees pay for a range of different amenities depending on the property and area in which it is located, the following is a  selection of services that are paid for by resort fees:  

  • “unlimited local phone calls;
  • “in room internet connection;
  • “property-wide wireless internet;
  • “printing, notary and other executive services;
  • “parking;
  • “electric vehicle charging stations;
  • “fitness center access;
  • “shuttle services;
  • “newspapers (both print and digital);
  • “pool/hot tub access;
  • “pool towels;
  • “expedited entry into nightclubs;
  • “concierge services;
  • “in room entertainment; and
  • “complimentary water and coffee in guest rooms.

“These examples and others are representative of features not usually provided with a simple guest room. These additional services and amenities make for an elevated travel experience, with an attention to detail valued by guests.

"Resort fees are a signal to our customers that they will get more than just a well-appointed room. Because these extra amenities and services come at a cost to the resort, patrons are charged a resort fee – they are inherently valuable and therefore should not be considered ‘junk.’” 

Costello said under the senators’ bill, customers would have to “reverse-engineer” the line-item disclosures AGA members currently provide, as the bill would require resorts to lump all of their fees into a single price.  

Costello said she believes the current system is transparent and helpful to customers.   

When asked if she believed the Hotel Fees Transparency Act would make it out of Congress, Costello said, “It’s tough to pass anything in Congress. I won’t put odds on it.”

While Gaming America is neutral on the subject, with many being critical of resort fees, Oliver Lovat also spoke to us last week, pointing out a potential increase in costs that may arise from publicizing resort fees.

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