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US Senators Want to Address Casino Resort Fees

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According to Consumer Reports, the American hotel sector, which encompasses casino resorts, as well, generated approximately $2.9 billion in "resort fees" in 2018. This substantial amount caught the attention of Senators, who have taken the initiative to propose groundbreaking legislation aimed at eradicating all concealed lodging facilities.

Knowledge Is Power

Known as the Hotel Fees Transparency Act, this bipartisan bill will enforce mandatory governmental regulations pertaining to price disclosure, which were previously regarded as optional. Advertising hotel rooms or short-term rentals would come with a new set of regulations that would require operators to disclose the complete booking cost to customers right from the beginning.

Additionally, the responsibility of prosecuting any violations will be bestowed upon the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). At the same time, state attorneys general will be authorized to take civil action against those not complying with the law.

A lawsuit initiated in 2019 by the attorney general of Washington, DC, underscored the urgency of addressing this issue. In his State of the Union speech in February, President Joe Biden outlined his administration's dedication to tackling exorbitant fees across diverse sectors, including the hotel industry.

Clint Henderson, a prominent figure from the travel review platform The Points Guy, claims that these charges first appeared on hotel bills approximately ten years ago at lavish resorts boasting an abundance of amenities, which granted hotels ample room to maneuver their prices. He has said that these charges can range from a substantial $20 to a staggering $120 per night.

Marriott International Inc. and other companies have been accused of amassing a vast sum of money, estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, through the erroneous accumulation of the resort fees, which it allegedly applies as a "catch-all" to bills. The 2019 lawsuit eventually led Marriott to begin disclosing the fees upfront this year.

Hotels, online travel agencies, metasearch websites and other platforms showcasing a diverse range of accommodations will all be covered by the bill. Whether it be hotels, restaurants, hostels, short-term rentals, or lodging options with nightly, hourly, or weekly rates, this legislation will extend its reach to any and all advertising websites.

Trade Groups Get in the Way

According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, studies indicate that the occurrence of resort fees is infrequent in the industry. Additionally, it said that a significant 80% of visitors are open to paying them, as long as the provided amenities are deemed valuable enough. If that were the case, however, Congress wouldn't need to intervene.

According to a recent filing with the FTC, the American Gaming Association has come forward to support the continuation of the practice. It argues that a shift towards all-inclusive pricing could potentially misinform consumers about the amenities included and the availability of various services.

The timing of the Senate's deliberation on the legislation remains uncertain. It could be presented independently or incorporated into one of the numerous statutes that will be approved by Congress at a later date this year.

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