So it’s been made official. MGM will indeed begin charging for parking at its 11 Strip properties.

MGM Resorts International will announce Friday that it will become the first major casino company to start charging visitors for parking this year. Most of the casino giant’s properties will charge $10 or less for overnight self-parking. They are Mandalay Bay, Delano, Luxor, Excalibur, Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Vdara, Aria, Bellagio, The Mirage and MGM Grand. – CBS Las Vegas

We wrote about this a while back and were simply being optimistic in hoping that it would not come to fruition. It’s not surprising, but if MGM simply charges everyone for parking all the time, it’s not going to end well for anyone.

So, here’s what they should do. Utilize a modern validation system which will “comp” parking for those who still “deserve” the right to leave their Lexus on the third level of the parking garage at Monte Carlo.

First off, anyone staying at the hotel should automatically receive free parking. If MGM does not do this, Caesars properties will rake.

Secondly, anyone who has gambled a certain amount of money is entitled to complimentary parking. I’m not sure how that would amount would be determined, but with M-Life cards all gaming can be tracked so it’s not a difficult system to implement. One of the reasons parking has always been free in Vegas is because the casinos would rather you spend your money playing than feeding a meter. Why? People don’t get addicted to parking.

Lastly, parking should be validated for all those who arrive early or stay late and spend money on the Toshiba Plaza (the park surrounding the arena including retail and restaurants). One of the major concerns surrounding the opening of T-Mobile Arena is traffic pre and post event. If patrons are rewarded for spending money around the arena, they are more likely to stay after the game. Once again, this can be implemented with the M-Life card and would almost certainly be a net gain for MGM as people would spend more at the restaurants (and on “gifts”) than they would on parking.

Paid parking for sporting events and concerts is not abnormal. So there’s no reason anyone should be complaining about it. But paid parking at casinos, and specifically hotels attached to casinos is uncommon. MGM is lining itself up to alienate a lot of people locally, in commuter cities like LA and Phoenix, and even out-of-towners that rent vehicles.

A validation system would completely dissipate all anger and resentment toward the casino mega-corp. If MGM offers legitimate options to circumvent parking, there’s no way anyone can complain if they choose not to take them. You want to come to a hockey game, park, and go home, then give us $10. But if you are willing to spend some time with us exploring our great properties, we would be glad to offer you complimentary parking.

It’s obvious that $10 per car would be a solid revenue stream coming in to MGM they have never experienced before. But if Caesars, Cosmo, Wynn, Tropicana, and everyone else up and down the Strip don’t break down, the potential dollars lost could easily outweigh that brought in from parking.

People will pay it. Others will go around it however they can. But if MGM simply offers options, many will take advantage of them, and in the end, everyone wins rather than just MGM (or every other casino brand if this doesn’t work).

We aren’t cheap, we just don’t like knowing we’re being taken advantage of.