The Logic Behind Tipping
Each country has its own tipping customs and if you are from Europe, then you may feel as if tipping is something that is only done out of politeness if you feel as if you have received particularly good service.
However, this is not the case in the US. There, tipping is simply expected (if not legally required). Tipping in the US is not just a sign of appreciation; it is a cultural norm that is taken very seriously by all. There is a very simple reason for this; the minimum wage is very low.
Customer service work, particularly in a casino, is extremely hard. You may have to greet hundreds or thousands of people every day, remember specific requests, regular customers, order different drinks, handle any queries, and of course, deal with unhappy players. In the US, without tips those in the service industry earn just $7.25 per hour and this drops to $2.13 for those who earn a minimum of $30 in tips per month. As such, if they don’t receive regular and reliable tips, their lives would be extremely difficult.
How Much to Tip
While you are fully immersing yourself in the sights and sounds of a casino and Vegas in general, you will not want to waste time worrying about making sure that you have the right change to tip with. Therefore, as a general rule, when you pay at a bar or restaurant, you should be tipping between 15% and 20%. This goes for the entirety of the US, not just Vegas.
However, if you feel that you received particularly impressive service, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t be tipping more. Often servers will sort customers into two categories, “George” and “Stiff”, or big tippers and low tippers respectively. It is far better to be placed in the first group, especially if it is a place you wish to return to.
Tipping Different Amounts for Different Services
During a trip to a casino, you will meet many different types of staff, particularly if you are staying in the casino’s hotel, all of whom will be relying on tips to a certain degree. The 15% to 20% rule is perfect for waiters, bartenders and hosts in restaurants and bars, but it is not quite the same for everyone else.
Before tipping a casino host, it is important to check the casino’s rules as in some places hosts may not be allowed to accept cash gifts as they could be misconstrued as bribes. However, if it is allowed, it is best to give the tip at the end of your stay. There are alternatives to cash tips that you can give, such as gift certificates, bets and comps.
You can tip your dealer as you play or when you leave the table. In general, between 2% and 5% of your overall winnings is a standard tip. However, you can increase this is you are doing particularly well or are having a particularly good time. At a poker table, a minimum of a $1 chip is expected, but again, you can decide based upon the size of the pot.
If you order room service, expect to tip between 10% and 20%. However, you can adjust this depending on the charges that are added by the hotel itself. Very often, it is acceptable to tip a little less.
You should use your own judgement and consider the cost of the buffet and the amount of service you have received. However, typically you would tip around 10% of the meal, which is likely to be between $2 and $5 per person.
You may find that your casino hotel spa automatically adds a 20% charge for each service that you receive. In this situation, you do not need to tip. If there is no service charge, then you should tip around 15% to 20%.
Drinks Runner/Drinks Service
As a general rule, each time that someone brings you a drink on the casino floor you should be tipping $1. However, if you want regular fast service or you are winning a lot, then you may want to tip even more.
People will normally tip housekeepers between $1 and $3 per night. However, once again you should use your own judgement and consider things such as the size of the room, how many people were staying in it, if you had any special requests, and how much of a mess it is. Be sure to leave a note with the cash.
Assume a tip of $2 to $3 per bag and increase it if they are particularly heavy bags or if you feel the service was impressively fast.
If you opt to take a limo during your stay then a tip of around $20 is recommended. If your driver turns out to be a source of useful local knowledge and goes beyond what is expected, then you can tip a bit more.
Other Drivers and Valets
If you take a regular taxi or an Uber, then a tip of around 20% of the fare is expected. A hotel shuttle driver who carries your luggage to the airport would expect a tip of around $5. Similarly, a tip of between $2 and $5 for a valet is standard.
When Service is Included on the Bill
More and more places are introducing mandatory service charges on bills, particularly on drinks bills and restaurant bills. When this happens, do not feel as if you have to add an additional tip, unless you particularly want to. Furthermore, if you think the service charge added to the bill is too high, then you can leave less. In general, if you are not happy with a charge you see on the bill, then don’t worry about questioning it.
When the Service is Bad
If you are somewhere where you feel that the service is undeserving of a tip, perhaps it has been slow or the server particularly rude, then feel free to speak to the manager. It is far better to do this than to leave without some form of explanation. Just be sure to make sure you are polite when doing so, otherwise you will undermine your point somewhat. If you would prefer not to make a fuss, then leaving a tip of exactly 10% is enough to send a clear message.
Tipping with Casino Chips
You will see people tipping with casino chips, but really, they should not. The chips are always the casino’s property, even when they are in your possession. Therefore, it is always best to ensure that you retain some cash for tipping.
Tipping can be a bit of a minefield, especially for those from outside the US. However, casino staff are used to dealing with all kinds of people so as long as you are polite and it is clear that you are making an effort, then you should have absolutely nothing to worry about.