Typically, we think of tipping as simple gesture of appreciation for someone’s service. Depending on your level of social guilt, that could be anywhere from 10–15%. In Vegas, tipping gets quite a bit more convoluted than a simple percentage.
When you’re dealing with casinos in hotels, what you’re getting comped and possibly copious amounts of alcohol, things get a little fuzzy. Tipping is a personal decision and should always be based on the bill, service, requests and interaction you had, but it can still end up becoming a mine field of sorts when you consider all the services you receive in Vegas.
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Keep in mind that the people you’re tipping depend on this money for their livelihood. Many of them rely on a very meager minimum wage to survive on, which, for the most part, barely pays the bills. They essentially live on tips. Don’t think of it as extra money you’re giving them; think of it as part of the cost of the entertainment.
There are plenty of states in the U.S. that require tipped workers to be paid just over $2, compared to the $7.25 federal minimum wage. Fortunately, Nevada is not one of these places. Instead, they require tipped workers to be paid anywhere from $6.55 to $7.55 an hour. Regardless of whether or not you think the worker was just doing his or her job, it’s not the point. We tip to avoid bad service.
Don’t just tip when the service is exceptional; you should tip regardless. The only time your tip should be lessened is when the service is especially bad. If businesses were to include the cost of service in the prices of food, etc., you’d be paying quite a bit more. Tipping allows you to get better service at a price that’s a little easier on your wallet.
Tipping your valet
The consensus on tipping valets is anywhere from $2–$5 for each ride. If you’re vacationing on the strip, complimentary valet is included, so you’re actually saving money on parking fees. Why not tip to compensate for that?
Keep in mind, if you have a special request, i.e. keeping the car out front or waiting outside, you need to tip substantially more. In this case, you’re basically keeping your valet from making more money, so you need to compensate for this.
Tipping your taxi driver
There can be up to 2,200 taxis driving people to their locations at any time in Vegas, and there are about 27 million rides given each year. As long as your cab driver isn’t long-hauling, it’s in good taste to give him about 15% in tip. Long-hauling occurs when the driver takes you on a longer route than necessary to make more money. Unfortunately, if you’re not familiar with the area, this is hard to notice. Next time, consider putting the route in a smart phone if you have one. Even though the taxi drivers sometimes know of a better route, it can give you a good idea of how far you should actually be going and how long it should take.
Tipping at a buffet
According to Vegasclick.com, the general consensus is to tip about 10%. Most of the buffets are quite a bit more expensive than we’re used to, although this is because the food is supposed to be of a higher caliber. However, something to consider is the fact that you’re basically serving yourself at a buffet, so the servers are only there to clear plates. They can do this relatively quickly, so there’s no need to tip nearly as much as you would at a normal restaurant.
Tipping the hotel maid
Being a hotel maid is usually considered a pretty thankless job. Because many people aren’t in the room when the maid is cleaning, they don’t always think about how important it is to tip.
According to Vegas.com, people tip, on average, $1–$5 a day. You might modify that amount depending on what condition you left your room in. If you spent the night inviting people over, partying, eating and drinking, it would be wise to reconsider your usual $5 tip.
Tipping cocktail waitresses
While playing slots or other games, it is a cocktail waitress’ job to approach you and ask for a drink order. Don’t forget, these drinks are essentially FREE — that is if you’re not losing a boatload of money at the slots. Because of this, it is courteous to tip about $1 per drink if you’re playing regular slots. However, according to cocktaildoll.com, if you’re a high roller, you should tip $5 per drink. “When a high roller loses money, he is given special treatment because the casino hopes he’ll keep playing and lose more. When a high roller wins money, he is given special treatment because the casino hopes he’ll keep playing and give it back. These people are given the best drink service in any circumstance, therefore they should tip more.”
It is also courteous to tip extra for special requests or extra drinks. Even if you’re just ordering water or coffee with your alcoholic drink, you should tip per drink. Just because they’re given to you at the same time doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tip exactly as you normally would.
The general rule for tipping dealers is $5 an hour regardless of how often you’ve played or if you’ve won or lost. Because so many visitors see the job as more glamorous than other, they don’t realize that dealers usually get minimum wage just like any other workers at the casino.
There are always instances where you can tip more than $5. If you’re winning big, feel free to tip more. You are not required to, and you shouldn’t feel bad about not doing so, but typical casino etiquette would be to tip dealers or servers a bit more.