TIPS ON TIPPING
Casinos employ a lot of staff to keep things running smoothly for guests. Here’s who to tip -and how much.
It’s common knowledge that it is appropriate to tip one’s server after dining in a restaurant. These food servers rely on such gratuities, which usually hovers between 18 and 20 percent for good service, for the greater part of their income. In cases where the service or the meal is not quite up to par, it’s not uncommon to tip less. While tipping for a meal is pretty much a standard, when visiting a casino or resort guests sometimes wonder who to tip- and how much.
People don’t often think about it, but many other casino workers rely on tips for the majority of their income. These workers are considered part of the “service industry” and are usually paid below minimum wage. That said, tipping is a very personal decision and no one is obligated to tip for bad service. But there are some standards that you can use as a guideline for your next casino adventure.
If you get a comped meal, you should still tip your server based on the price of food without the comp. You should also follow these guidelines with meals that use a 2-for-I or other discount coupon.
The customary tip for the bellman is $1 per bag with a minimum of $3. Small, hand held ladies cosmetic cases, briefcases and kids plush toys do not count. Large athletic equipment bags or golf club bags are counted as one-and-a-half.
The minimum tip for the concierge is $1, depending on the nature of your request. Even though casinos are starting to charge for valet parking, you should tip the valet attendant at least 93-95, usually when you pick up your car. If you have a special request-such as keeping your car parked nearby for a quicker exit-then you should also tip when you drop off your car.
Some casinos offer free shuttles to and from the airport in a bus or limo. Five or 10 dollars is usually considered an average tip for the drive. If you’re hauling around a considerable number of bags, you may want to give a little more. Finally, don’t forget about the hotel maid. These are the people with one of the worst jobs in the hotel, but many guests forget them when they check out. Unless you’ve been a real disaster, a minimum of $3 per night should suffice.
A lot of players fail to understand that dealers are part of the service industry and rely on tips to make a living. The base salary for dealers is usually minimum wage, or close to it.
A good dealer, like a good waiter, is going to serve you in a professional and courteous manner. The big difference between the two professions is that part of the dealers job is to take your money when you lose. This is where it can start to feel personal. A player on a losing streak tends to think, “the casino’s gotten enough of money. Why should I tip on top of it?”
This attitude is understandable, and dealers are used to it. It’s also why contrary to popular belief, they actually want to see you win. The dealers don’t get a cut of your losses, nor do they get penalized if you win a bunch of the casino’s money. Their job is simply to deal the game and keep things moving along.
As long as the game is being dealt in a professional, pleasant manner, it is appropriate to tip your dealer periodically regardless of whether you’re winning or losing. There are several ways to do this. You can give it to the dealer directly, usually before you get up to leave the table. Just slide the chip (or chips) toward them. The other method, which dealers prefer, is to place a bet for them. Their job can get tedious, and by making a bet for them you’re injecting some excitement into their routine.
To do this at a blackjack table, place a chip on the layout next to your bet. It doesn’t need to be the same amount as your main bet; it can be any amount you want. Then, if you win your hand, the dealers wins, too. The $5 bet you placed for them is now a sweet $10 tip.
During a live poker game, it is customary for the winner of the pot to tip. Usually a player will toke the dealer $1 per pot. In some low-limit games the player may opt for 50 cents, but most players will tip something when they win.
When you have a jackpot that requires a hand-pay by the attendant it is customary to tip them when they bring your money. Again this is based on the service received. If the jackpot was paid quickly, then a tip is in order. A lot of players feel one percent of the jackpot, or in that neighborhood, is an appropriate tip for the attendant. For a $1,000 jackpot, this would mean a $10 tip.
Some players give tips to slot attendants in the hopes of gleaning some “inside information”-which machines are hot, and which ones are due to hit. The attendants appreciate the extra cash and might point you to a “lucky” bank of machines, but as we’ve explained many times in Strictly Slots, no machine is ever “due to hit.” Each spin is a random, independent event. For some players, chatting with the attendants and trying to get a scoop is part of the fun; just don’t take their advice too seriously.
The one person you should always tip every time-without fail-is your beverage server. “Complimentary” means the drinks are free, but it doesn’t mean the service is. Always tip your beverage server. Because their tips are part of their salary, some casinos require the server to pay a tax on each drink they order and take onto the casino floor. If you order a drink and leave before it is delivered, or you don’t tip the server, you have just cost them money.
When the drinks are “free.” a dollar per drink is a good tip. Whether it’s a glass of champagne or a bottled water, every beverage counts as one. This is why you should tip regardless of the type of drink, and tip for each one.
Casino hosts are not allowed to accept cash tips as this would appear as a conflict of interest. However, they are allowed to accept small gifts from you. A general tip are ties or golf balls for male hosts and a scarf or flowers to female hosts.
Tips may sometimes be called for before a service is rendered. Some call it a bribe, but the reality is it works in some cases. We’re not suggesting anything illegal, but it’s a fact of life that you can sometimes get a little special treatment with a small, well-timed tip. This may come in the form of a better view, a slightly upgraded room, a nicer rental car, or quicker seating at a restaurant.
Members of the service industry have a saying: the word “Tips” stands for To Insure Proper Service. In other words, they don’t think tips should be viewed as a reward; they believe a tip is to make sure you get the best possible service. If you’re settling in for an afternoon at the blackjack table, or at the slots, you might as well tip early and set the right tone.
Of course, you don’t ever have to tip if you don’t want to. Casino employees are used to stiffs; you’ll never hear them complain about it (not publicly, anyway). But a little consideration can go a long way. Why not spread some good karma around? After all, if there’s anyone in the casino you want rooting for you, it’s the people handling the cards and paying out the jackpots.