The Ultimate Guide To Tipping Etiquette In American Casinos

The Ultimate Guide To Tipping Etiquette In American Casinos

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% 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.

Tipping etiquette in American casinos

Tipping Upon Arrival

Valet runners are fast, efficient, and can save you a ton of walking.

Not everyone will choose to valet park, but for $2 or $5 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 couple of dollars a bag, up to $10 or $20 for the entire luggage cart, will likely 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 the customer. More on this below.

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.

Tipping On A Hand Pay Jackpot

As mentioned above, any win above $1,200 will be a hand pay jackpot. The term hand pay is apt because that’s precisely what happens – the attendant will give you your winnings by hand.

This is because a win of this amount needs to be reported to the IRS for tax purposes. Your slot attendant will make sure they have all of the required information on file, deduct the appropriate taxes, and then come over and pay you your jackpot in cash.

Of course, on larger jackpots, you will have the option to take a check or put the money on deposit at the casino cage. This way you can access as much as you need without worrying about carrying all of that cash on you.

So, how much do you tip after winning a hand pay jackpot? Due to the time, personal interaction, and the expectation that you will want to be paid on time when your next jackpot hits, a minimum tip of $20 and up to 3% to 10% of the total is recommended.

Side note: Federal taxes are not generally withheld until the jackpot is over $5,000, so if you want them withheld on smaller amounts, be sure to ask.

Tipping At Table Games

casino dealer at poker table
Image: Shutterstock

Tipping in table games can be confusing.

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 pit boss isn’t allowed to accept tips.

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. If you’ve enjoyed playing at their table, then it’s time to tip the dealer.

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.

Tipping 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 them 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% 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.

Tipping Your Roulette Dealer

roulette table
Image: Shutterstock

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%, when you are done and coloring up.

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, more frequent tipping may assure more cooperation.

Tipping 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 smoother.

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 as a tip.

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 when they hit.

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.

Tipping 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%.

Tipping 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 taxable jackpot.

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 give the dealer their tip when you leave the table or hand in a tip after a winning hand.

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 tables.

Do Casino Dealers Keep Their Tips?

Most US casino dealers initially earn between $4.35 to $9.00 per hour, and casinos expect the customers to make up the rest.

But in almost all casinos, dealers pool their tips. They don’t keep their own. There are many reasons, but the heart of it is to avoid the dealer feeling like they would be penalized financially for dealing difficult games, and make more when dealing very simple games. This wouldn’t be in the casino’s best interest.

Tipping Your Cocktail Servers

Someone tipping their waiter
Image: Shutterstock

Casinos wouldn’t be half the fun without beverage servers.

Your hard-working server 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 back by.

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% 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 considered.

Tipping Your Casino Host

Not all casino hosts can accept cash tips, and in some rare cases, even gifts are frowned on. But in most casinos, you can bring your host a small gift or cash tip, though it’s best to be discreet. Place it inside an envelope or card, or use a gift card if cash is not allowed.

While it is unlikely that a host will over-comp you just because of some small gratuity, showing them that you appreciate their time and attention is always a good idea.

The amount to tip a host will depend heavily on what they do for you. If they got you a room, that might be a $20 gift card, but if they flew you out, set you up for three nights of dinner reservations, and then found you tickets to see U2 at the Sphere, well, that’s a whole different level of tipping.

Tipping At Restaurants

When dining out either at the casino or nearby restaurants, tipping etiquette in America is 10-25% of the cost of the meal, including drinks.

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.

Tipping 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% 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 discreet.

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 evening.

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.