The standard tip for free drinks brought to you while gambling in Las Vegas casinos is $1-2 per drink. For the best service, consider tipping $2 or more, especially for cocktails. And don‘t forget to tip every 1-2 drinks!
As a first-time Las Vegas tourist, you may be wondering why tipping is even expected when the drinks are free. Well, those cocktail servers bringing complimentary libations around the casino floor live on tips. So while you don‘t pay for the drinks directly, it‘s customary and polite to tip the standard $1-2 per drink. Under tipping or not tipping at all for free drinks can negatively impact the service you receive.
Let‘s explore tipping etiquette in more detail so you can enjoy free drinks in Vegas like a pro!
Why You Should Tip for Free Drinks in Vegas
On the Las Vegas casino floor, cocktail waitresses circulate continuously to take drink orders and deliver them to gamblers free of charge. This is done to encourage players to stay at their machines and tables longer. The longer you play, the more the casinos can make.
These servers typically work for tips alone, so they depend on the gratuities from customers to earn a living. They‘ll happily serve free drinks all night long as long as their tip compensation makes it worthwhile.
It‘s considered very poor etiquette not to tip just because you didn‘t directly pay for the drinks. Remember, you‘re being served continuously by that cocktail waitress relying on your tips. So tip them appropriately as you would at any bar or restaurant.
Veteran Vegas tourists recommend alwaysbudgeting tip money for free drinks. Plan on tipping $1-2 per drink minimum. And if you hope to have Dorothy your cocktail waitress at your beck and call all night, throw some higher tips her way. More on maximizing your service through strategic tipping a bit later.
How Much Should You Tip for Free Drinks in Vegas?
The standard tip for free casino drinks brought to you is $1-2 per drink. Here are some key factors to help guide your tip amount:
- Beer – $1 per beer is reasonable
- Cocktail/mixed drink – $2-3+ per cocktail depending on intricacy
Service Quality & Speed
- Slow service – Lower end of range
- Fast service – Upper end of range or higher
Number of Drinks
- Tip per drink based on type
- Occasionally throw in a larger tip
Cash vs Card
- Cash tips preferred – Hand them to your server
- If tipping on card, make sure to add tips every 1-2 drinks
Jacob Brogan, a writer specialized in alcohol culture, says "For beer, $1 remains the standard. But for cocktails, $2 and up is better, especially if it‘s not a simple mix."
Many experts also recommend tipping at the high end of the range or a bit above early on to encourage the most attentive service for the rest of your gambling session. We‘ll go into how strategic tips can really pay off with better drink delivery.
Scenarios & Examples of Tipping Amounts
Let‘s look at some example scenarios for tips based on number and type of free drinks ordered in Vegas:
You‘re playing slots and the server brings you 3 beers over an hour – Tip $3 total
This equals $1 per beer which is appropriate for simple repeat orders.
Your poker table orders a round of 4 mixed shots & cocktails – Tip ~$8
Going with $2 each for the 4 drinks is suitable for a larger cocktail order.
Craps table orders 10 assorted beers, wines, and basic cocktails over 2 hours – Tip ~$18
With drink types varying in price and complexity, $1-2 range per drink is reasonable here.
At roulette you get the server‘s attention and ask specifically for top-shelf whiskey cocktails – Tip $5 per drink
For specialty requests and complex drinks, tip at the higher end or above the standard range.
Drink Order Tip Calculator
Beers: ____ x $1 per beer = $____
Basic Cocktails: ____ x $2 per cocktail = $____
Complex Cocktails: ____ x $3+ per cocktail = $____
Total tip amount = $____
Key Tipping Takeaways:
- The baseline tip is $1 per beer, $2 per basic cocktail
- Tip higher for intricate specialty cocktails
- Occasionally tip above the standard range to invest in better service
Why Tipping More Can Really Pay Off
Savvy Las Vegas veterans recommend always tipping well on that first free drink. "If you tip more than normal on the first one, you will see them coming more frequently," says Serge Krijn, general manager of TAO Group Hospitality.
Many cocktail servers admit they prioritize serving customers who tip better, particularly right off the bat. They pay close attention to who tips what. Tip $5 on your first drink, and you‘ll likely have a dedicated server for the rest of the evening.
Vegas regular Cyrus J also advocates for overtipping on the first drink if you want to get treated well the rest of your trip:
“I tip $5 on the first drink. That way the wait staff knows I‘m a good tipper and will keep bringing me drinks without me having to ask.”
Going above 15-20% on that initial tip establishes you as a big spender and worth focusing on. Servers have to hustle and tend to flock to the good tippers. So it pays to tip well, quite literally!
Why Cash Tips Are Better for Free Drinks
Many Las Vegas cocktail servers strongly prefer cash tips instead of tips added to card payments. With cash, they get the money right away rather than waiting until their next paycheck for credit card tips.
Tip in smaller bills like $1s and $5s to make it easy for servers to quickly collect and pocket their cash tips from you. They can also subtly palp all their cash tips to get a sense of which customers are tipping best.
Of course if you don‘t have much cash, putting a tip on your card is better than no tip at all. Just try to remember to add one every drink or two so your server gets their tips promptly.
Tipping Etiquette Varies Across the US
on refinery29 titled “Help! Should You Tip Hotel Housekeepers?”
Tipping etiquette, norms, and averages vary quite a bit across the United States. What‘s considered a standard tip in one city may be perceived as cheap or generous in another.
For example, a 15% tip on your restaurant bill would be considered poor service in New York City, where 20% is more the norm. But that same 15% would be a perfectly acceptable tip in Charleston, SC.
This holds true for tipping on free casino drinks as well. Here are the average tips for free drinks in a few major US gambling destinations:
|Average Tip Per Free Drink
As you can see, Las Vegas falls somewhere in the middle of the pack with its $1-2 per free drink standard. Cocktail servers in New Orleans may expect slightly higher tips on par with Vegas, while Reno or Deadwood dealers might appreciate $1 per drink.
The takeaway is that when visiting a new casino destination, observe local tipping customs. Tipping above or below the norm could impact your service. When in Vegas, do as the high-rollers do and tip $1-2 per drink.
Why Tip Jars Are Different from Individual Tips
You may notice tip jars sitting on the casino bars and corners of gaming tables. These communal jars are meant for pooling and sharing tips among all the cocktail servers working that area.
But don‘t just rely on the tip jars in place of tipping your individual server for each round of drinks. Drop your cash tips directly into your cocktail waitress‘s hand for the personalized service and attention you want.
Think of the tip jars as more of a bonus or gesture of general appreciation. They don‘t replace properly tipping your own server handling your drinks.
Strategic Tips Can Encourage Faster Drinks
Beyond just tipping the standard $1-2 per drink, there are some insider strategies Vegas pros use to land even better drink service:
- Tip higher early – Servers notice and give you priority
- Throw in the occasional overtip – Shows you‘re a big spender
- Discreetly show you‘re tipping with cash – Servers like this best
- Politely request a specific liquor or cocktail – Higher tips for favors
Vegas regulars recommend treating your cocktail server like your bartender to cultivate a relationship. "I always tip my server as if I were sitting at the bar. Tell them your name, ask their name, and tip properly," suggests Brandon P.
Dealer Darryl D says "Truth is, we serve the big tippers first and most frequently. Don‘t hold back on the tips if you want to keep those free drinks coming!"
Tipping Etiquette Summarized
Here are the key things to remember about tipping for free drinks in Vegas casinos:
- Tip every drink – $1 beer, $2 cocktail, $3+ specialty
- Tip higher on the very first drink
- Occasionally overtip, like $5, to get noticed
- Tip with cash whenever possible
- Politely request specific drinks along with higher tips
- Add tips every 1-2 drinks if charging to your card
- Don‘t forget to budget for tipping – it‘s expected!
Enjoy Tipping for Free Drinks Like a Vegas Pro
Hopefully this detailed guide to tipping etiquette for free Las Vegas casino drinks demystifies the process for you. Just keep these tips in mind, be reasonable with your gratuities, and you‘ll master the Vegas service culture in no time.
Remember – tip every drink, tip well at the start, throw in some overtips here and there. If you follow the $1-2 per drink tipping guideline and stay strategic with your gratuities, your cocktail server will keep you well lubricated with freebies all night long!
Now that you know how much to tip for drinks in Vegas casinos, get out there and enjoy some guilt-free complimentary cocktails next time you‘re gambling in Sin City. Just don‘t forget your cash and your tipping etiquette. Cheers!