Your Guide To Tipping In Vegas: Who, How Much & When
If you’re heading to Las Vegas for some high-rolling fun, the last thing you want to worry about is committing a casino tourist faux pas.
Tipping etiquette can confuse the best of us. There’s a lot to consider: who should I tip? How much is enough? What if the service was bad?
Sometimes it seems as though every city, or even every venue, has its own rules — and every tip-ster their own opinion on how much to pay.
But nobody wants to be known as a bad tipper or, worse, a tightwad. And a positive customer-server experience can be the making of a great trip, especially if you’ll be frequenting the same casinos, bars or restaurants during your stay.
So, if you’re a novice, a newbie or just unsure how they do things in Sin City, read our top, er, tips for tipping in Vegas. Here’s why, when, and how much to tip in Las Vegas.
Why Should You Tip?
When you travel around the world, particularly in Europe, you’ll know that tipping is usually left to patrons’ own personal discretion.
However, it’s a different ballgame in the US. While it may not be a legal requirement to tip, it is expected. More than simply a token of appreciation or recognition, it’s a cultural norm and one that’s taken seriously.
And the main reason for this? Minimum wage.
Working tables is hard, from greeting potentially hundreds of customers a day, through to ordering, serving, remembering usuals and specials, and handling questions and complaints.
In the US, those in the service industry can reportedly expect around $7.25 per hour without tips, or $2.13 for employees who earn a minimum of $30 in tips per month.
Thinking about it may dampen your vacation mood, but tipping is a necessity.
How Much Should You Tip In Vegas?
When you’re busy soaking up the sights and sounds of Sin City, the last thing you’ll feel like doing is hunting down the correct change for tipping.
So, here’s an easy way to make sure there are no awkward moments when you pay the bill in the casino restaurant or bar: leave a tip of between 15 to 20 per cent.
That’s the standard gratuity practice across Las Vegas, and the US as a whole, so you’ll be safe as long as you stick to those figures.
But, of course, if you received outstanding service there’s nothing stopping you from leaving more. You may even come to be known as a “George” — that’s code for big tipper to you and me. It’s much better than being called the opposite — a “stiff”.
Should You Tip Different Amounts For Different Services?
A trip to a casino will bring you into contact with many kinds of staff who rely on gratuities to bolster their wage.
So, while the 15 to 20 per cent rule will serve you well for the waiters, bartenders and hosts in casino restaurants and bars, what about the rest?
The general rule of thumb is:
1. Casino Hosts
Check the casino rules and policies before tipping your host. Some venues are strict about cash gifts, so your goodwill could land someone in trouble if it looks like a bribe.
However, if you have the green light, it’s often best to do this at the end of your stay, with gift certificates, bets and comps popular too.
Tip your dealer as you play or when you leave. Between two to five per cent of your overall winnings is the standard, but you’re free to base it on how well you are doing and how much fun you’re having.
For poker dealers, a minimum of a $1 chip is expected but you can judge it on the size of the pot.
3. Room Service
10 to 20 per cent. There’s arguably a little more flexibility here due to typically pricier bills, less ‘service’ and charges often being added by the hotels themselves.
4. Buffet Service
Use the cost of the buffet, and the level of attention you’ve received, to guide you. Usually a little less than a restaurant, the average is 10 per cent of the meal, or around $2 to $5 per person.
5. Spa Staff
Some casino and hotel spas will automatically add a 20 per cent charge for each spa service you receive. If not, opt for your trusty 15 to 20 per cent rule, depending on how good your treatment was.
6. Drinks Runner/Drinks Service
It’s typically $1 every time somebody brings you a beverage on the casino floor or at the slots. You might want to fork out a few more bucks, or stick by the 15 to 20 per cent rule, if you’re feeling flush or banking on regular and attentive service.
$1 to $3 per night is the usual. But again, use your discretion and consider factors like the size of the room or suite, the number of guests, any special requests made and how messy you are. Just remember to leave a note with the cash so it isn’t overlooked.
Go with $2 to $3 per bag and bump it up for quick service or if there’s a lot of heavy duty lifting.
9. Limo Drivers
If you’re traveling in style, a $20 tip is recommended. If your driver is full of handy local knowledge and goes the extra mile, you may want to shell out a little more.
10. Other Drivers and Valets
As a rough guide: 20 per cent of the fare for taxis and Uber drivers. $5 for a hotel shuttle driver who handles your luggage or $2 to the airport. $2 to $5 is the usual range for a valet, too.
Just make sure you don’t tip someone who has taken you the long way around!
What If A Service Charge Has Already Been Included On The Bill?
Earlier in 2019, our Casino.org news report on mandatory service charges being added to drinks bills at casinos in Vegas caused a storm and hit headlines all the way ‘across the pond’ in the UK.
Rising prices and extra fees — from those aforementioned hidden drinks charges to room tax rises out of sync with Vegas’ visitation rates — are a hot topic at the moment.
But what does it mean for you and your newfound tipping know-how, if your bill at a restaurant or bar comes with a service bill already attached?
This is common in restaurants, particularly if it’s a busy time of the year or you’re part of a large party of diners.
But don’t fear, if the bill says a gratuity has been included you don’t have to add anything extra on top — unless you wish to. And the same logic applies if you feel the rate is too high and wish to pay less.
As for bars, where you may find your casino now charges a few dollars for table and bar service to “keep the venue operationally running”, feel free to query any surprise costs.
Should You Tip For Bad Service?
If service has been unacceptably slow, rude, or just downright terrible, what should you do?
The simple answer: speak to the restaurant or bar manager.
If you feel the service was too bad for a tip, it’s too bad not to speak up about. Trying to leave without explaining the lack of gratuity will lead to some awkward questions.
If in doubt, a reduced tip of 10 per cent for restaurants and bars will get the message across, too.
Can You Tip With Chips?
It does happen but technically, no.
Chips are casino property, even when in your possession. Essentially, they were never yours to give away. So always make sure you have some cash on you and avoid any nasty fees by reading our guide to ATMs in Vegas first.
If you want to work out how much a night out in Sin City will cost you, be sure to use our handy Vegas nightclub calculator.