Press of Atlantic City

(ELAINE ROSE, Press of Atlantic City) ATLANTIC CITY – It doesn’t take long to get the message. Stand in the valet parking area while people wait for their cars, and it soon becomes clear the increase in the state-imposed casino parking fee doesn’t sit well with gamblers.

They’re all too happy to say how they don’t like knowing the price to park until after they’ve bought the service, how they resent paying the tax increase for the casino and wonder where it will end.

But casino employees feel the pinch too. Ask any parking garage cashier and they’ll tell you they get an earful.

Then there are the valets. They are paying for the fee increase, too – in the form of lower tips as customers figure they have to save money somewhere.

The tip “might have been $2 or $3” before the increase, said Darsella Anthony of Pleasantville, a valet parker at Resorts Atlantic City. “Now it’s strictly a dollar,” and more people are stiffing the parking attendants.

As part of Gov. James McGreevey’s attempt to balance the state budget, the casino parking fee was increased from $2 to $3. But many properties charge $4 for the privilege of parking there, even for established players.

Many players kept aside $5 to take care of parking on the way out, said Anthony’s co-worker, Jaime Fuentes of Atlantic City. When the parking fee was $2, three-dollar tips were common.

The higher fee leaves less money for the tip.

Anthony said she has already been audited by the Internal Revenue Service, which suspected she was making more tip money than she reported on her return. Try explaining to the IRS that the higher parking fee means lower income for the valets.

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