US Senators fighting casino hotel and resort fees

Haley Hintze
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Posted on: July 28, 2023 12:04 am EDT

Poker players traveling to Las Vegas and other popular American tourist destinations have long been aware of the reality of hidden hotel and resort fees which can blur the true cost of lodging and make planning a poker trip more difficult.

Now, US Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) have joined forces to introduce the Hotel Fees Transparency Act, which is designed to stop the worst abuses of the hospitality industry’s long-time practice.

Resort fee killer to get bipartisan support

The anti-resort-fees bill, designated as S2498, was introduced yesterday.

The bill quickly received its mandatory two readings and has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, where it is expected to receive bipartisan support.

Moran and Klobuchar are the co-chairs of the Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus and members of the Senate Commerce Committee.

According to a joint statement from the two senators, the Hotel Fees Transparency Act, if it becomes law, will improve transparency for consumers by forcing anyone advertising hotel rooms or short-term rentals to clearly show, upfront, the total price a customer will pay. 

“High prices are forcing Kansans to account for all their expenses, and they should not need to guess how much they will end up paying for a hotel room,” said Sen. Moran. “This commonsense legislation requires hotels and other short-term lodging providers to display and advertise the total price of their room, so Kansans can be certain that the listed price is what they will pay at checkout.”

“Too often, Americans making reservations online are being met with hidden fees that make it difficult to compare prices and understand the true cost of an overnight stay,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “This bipartisan legislation would help improve transparency so that travelers can make informed decisions.”

Democrats and Republicans unite against deceptive casino advertising

The bill would task the Federal Trade Commission to identify and pursue violators while also authorizing states’ attorneys general to launch similar enforcement actions at the state level.

The bipartisan nature of the legislation reflects the widespread belief that resort and hotel fees are a form of deceptive advertising employed largely by upscale venues in an attempt to make their lodging compare more favorably with lower-priced alternatives. S2498’s introduction also fulfillls in part a campaign promise by sitting US President Joe Biden to combat such hidden junk fees.

The lodging and hospitality industries, as expected, are already pushing back. The gambling-entertainment industry’s leading lobbying group, the American Gaming Association (AGA), served up a scare tactic in a filing to the FTC in connection to the S2498’s introduction. “Changing to all-inclusive pricing would result in removal of existing amenity disclosures and could lead to consumers making assumptions about what services and amenities would be available,” the AGA wrote.

Exactly why all-inclusive pricing would force the removal of existing amenity disclosures wasn’t fully detailed, however. The AGA’s client base leans heavily toward the type of gambling-resort destinations that regularly include the addition of unspecified resort fees to a stay’s final total.

No hearings or votes have been scheduled to date on S2498.