Tipping in American casinos has always been a bit complicated.
Casinos outsource payroll to the customer and
so, from the valet runner when you arrive to the cashier who cashes you out
when you leave, 80 percent of the staff you run across is going to be low paid
and looking for a gratuity.
Not to worry though, we’re going to walk you
through the who, why and when of casino tipping.
Valet runners are fast, efficient, and can
save you a ton of walking.
Not everyone will choose to valet park but for
$1 or $2 when you pull in, to a few dollars when they pull your car back
around, this is a gratuity that delivers real bang for the buck, especially on
rainy or cold nights.
Just be aware that most valet departments
without parking structures will pull their runners in when lightning is nearby.
If you’re staying at the hotel, bellmen can
also be a great time saver.
A few dollars a bag, up to $10 or $20 for the
entire luggage cart is likely to start your stay off on a much nicer footing
then schlepping your bags up the elevator and down the hall to your room.
And of course, the quicker you’re settled in, the sooner you can make a beeline for the casino floor.
Tipping Your Slots Attendant
Slots are a relatively straightforward affair when it comes to tipping.
There’s some debate about tipping an attendant if they fix your machine, but if a dollar or two means they will be back quicker next time, what can it hurt?
In most US jurisdictions, any payout of more
than $1,200 will be paid in person by a slot floor person. Tipping here starts
at about $20 and goes up to between 3-10 percent of the jackpot, depending on
If you call an attendant over to hold a machine while you use the restroom or for whatever reason, tips should be based on the length of time you’re gone.
This could range from a couple dollars up to $5 or even more if you’re gone for a bit.
If you’re likely to be gone for more than 5-10
minutes, just ask them to turn off the machine instead. You can always use the
service button when you return to get it turned back on.
At Table Games
Tipping in table games can be confusing. And sometimes purposefully so.
Most US casinos dealers initially earn between $4.35 up to $5.00 per hour and casinos expect the customers to make up the rest.
But once money goes into that tip bucket that’s
money the casino can’t win, so they sometimes make things difficult when it
comes to tipping.
There are many different schools of thoughts
when it comes to tipping dealers, but it really comes down to whether you are having
a good time.
A dealer is an entertainer first and dealer
second. This isn’t someone pulling your car around or bringing you a drink.
Tipping here isn’t about a service being
provided (or at least not directly), this is about entertainment value.
Yes, if a dealer gives you a straight flush on Mississippi Stud or a 30-minute roll on the dice table, you absolutely should take care of them, but even that should be within the context of whether you had a good time.
A dealer should always make sure you leave smiling even if you lost.
We will discuss different tipping situations
in more detail, but at the end of the day, the service you are tipping for is
customer service, and if they deliver that they deserve that little extra.
Your Blackjack Dealer
Tipping in blackjack can be done by handing chips directly to the dealer or by placing a bet in front of yours.
Most folks prefer to make a bet for the dealer
because they feel like it keeps the dealer rooting for them and gives them a
stake in seeing you win.
On lower limit tables, maybe a few dollars
after every blackjack, or if you’ve won several hands in a row.
On higher limit $25 and up games, the $5
dollar chips would be a better choice.
Most blackjack games have some sort of side bet now and if you were to hit one of these, something like 3-10 percent would be in order.
It’s not required, but if you split or double
your bet and have a bet for the dealer it’s good form to make those bets for
the dealer as well.
Your Roulette Dealer
In roulette, the bet for the dealer can be offset on top of the chips you are betting to let the dealer know it’s for them, or you can simply hand it in.
Tell them which number you wish to bet, and
that this bet is for them.
Another common form of tipping in roulette is
simply to hand in some of your chips, perhaps 5 percent, when you are done and
Roulette is a game where some people work the
dealer much more than others. If you’re simply making outside bets and placing
them yourself, perhaps you don’t need to tip as frequently.
But if before every spin you are asking the
dealer to place 10 or 12 bets for you, or are stacking up chips on corners,
splits and straight ups, a tip more frequently may assure more cooperation.
Your Craps Dealer
Most dice players simply hand in chips when
they are done playing. This doesn’t slow down the game and makes things a bit
But some dice players like to keep the dealers in action as a form of good luck.
On the come out roll, you may hear: “$5 Yo for me and a dollar for the dealers.” This means the player will win $75 dollars if the 11 rolls and the dealers will win $15.
Much more than any other game, you will hear dice players say “I’m in control” in reference to a dealer bet that they have placed.
So, in our above example, if the player said:
“Dollar for the dealer, I’m in control,” then the player would decide what to
do with a winning wager, perhaps parlaying it to a $16 Yo or telling the
dealers to drop the $15 in winnings but leave the dollar up for the next roll.
Some craps players will give the dealers a six or eight or maybe all the numbers.
If that number wins, the dealers win, and if the player has said he’s in control, then he will decide whether to press, parlay or drop the winnings.
If you’re new to the game, try and find a
slower game with fewer people.
Tell the dealer you’re learning and ask about
tipping while you’re there. They will be certain to help.
Your Baccarat Dealer
Tipping in baccarat is much the same, the majority of players tip when they are coloring up.
Some will bet for the dealer on individual
hands by placing a chip in front of either their player or banker bet, or
sometimes the tie bet.
Most baccarat tables now have some type of
side bet, and when hitting a decent payout on one of these, most players will
tip 3-5 percent.
In Carnival Games
Carnival games such as Mississippi Stud, Three
Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’em and even Pai-Gow Poker are always
problematic, mainly because for the first time, we have the chance of hitting a
Filling out tax forms for the 100+ dealers
splitting the jackpot isn’t something the casinos are going to entertain.
So, on many carnival games, betting for the
dealer on a single hand is prohibited. You can simply give the dealer their tip
when you leave the table.
You can get around this in some cases by
placing the bet offset for the dealer on top of your bet.
Should you hit a taxable jackpot, the chip is
still considered yours, and the taxes will be taken out in your name, at which
point you can just give the dealer their share.
This won’t always work, due to many of the
bets on these games having a strict bet of just one dollar, or just five
dollars. In most states, a payout becomes taxable at 300 to 1 AND $600 or more.
But this also varies from state to state and
tribe to tribe so, as in craps, your best bet is to ask the dealer and they
will walk you through the individual casino’s rules for tipping on these
Your Cocktail Servers
Casinos wouldn’t be half the fun without beverage
They will bring you drinks, give you a smile
and encouragement, and just generally make your gaming experience better.
One of the dirty little secrets of the casino
business is that these hard-working folks are paid $2.15 an hour. Many can work
years and not see their base pay go over $3.
In about half of USA casinos, drinks are free for those actively gaming, in the other half there will be some nominal charge.
Either way, you should tip a minimum $1 and
preferably $2 for each drink, whether it’s alcoholic or not. And then feel free
to go higher for great service and customer care.
I mean after all, you want these folks coming
Tipping At The Cage
The cage is where you cash out your chips at
the end of the evening. Throughout most casinos in the States, this will also
be the players’ club area where you get your players’ club card.
90 percent or more of these casinos will have an offer for new players signing up, so make sure you swing by this area and get a players card and see what is offered if you don’t already have one.
They also help set up credit lines or can get you cash off your credit card.
Most transactions in this area won’t require a
gratuity, but in some rare cases such as cashing out a big win, or a wire
transfer, or something equally time consuming, perhaps a small tip should be
When dining out either at the casino or nearby
restaurants, tipping etiquette in America is 10-25 percent of the cost of the
Again, the majority of these folks aren’t making even minimum wage, but some tip adjusted version of it.
As in all these situations, customer service is everything.
Taxis And Such
If you need to take a taxi, especially in Las
Vegas, look for a taxi stand.
It’s illegal for Vegas taxis to accept hailed
fairs, so no flagging down one on your own on the Strip.
10 percent of the fare is a good baseline starting place. Uber or Lyft should be treated the same as taxi drivers.
Tipping Etiquette In America And The Rest Of The World
As you can see, tipping in American casinos
can be a wallet draining exercise, and is quite a different experience than in
most of the world.
Tipping in UK casinos was illegal until quite
recently. And in most European casinos tipping is still quite rare, or at least
Even Macau doesn’t have a tipping culture, and
many of the tips are appropriated by the managers.
Only in the Caribbean will you find an
American model of low paid staff and an expectation of a gratuity-filled
But remember the staff are working hard to
make sure you have a memorable and fun-filled adventure so in most cases a
couple bucks, a smile and a bit of understanding will go a long, long way.