Newsflash... Free drinks aren't really free. You must be gambling to get a free drink. Ever put a $20 bill into a machine, order a drink, and your $20 is gone before your drink comes?? Guess how much a soda or water costs from the vending machine by the ice maker... $3. Take a half hour of your time and go to Walgreens (or similar). There's one on the strip and one downtown.. Buy a three dollar styrofoam cooler, some sodas, waters, beer, or liquor and keep these ice cold in your room. If you've lost your cash for the day, you won't go thirsty. Not even water is free in the casino if you're not playing. There are no drinking fountains, and the tap water tastes terrible.
Most room reservations in Las Vegas do nothing more than put your name in the system. It lets them know you're coming. The actual room you receive is decided at the check-in desk by the person right in front of you. BE FRIENDLY to your check-in clerk. Ask them, in a courteous manner, for any special requests you have. (Strip view, upper/lower floor, etc) Go ahead and ask if there are any upgrades available. (They hear this a hundred times a day) Be patient. Give them a moment or two so they can search for availability. Let them know that you appreciate their efforts. And yes, have a $20 bill visible in your hand. If they accommodate your request... give them the $20 and a thank you. During peak times, an upgrade may not be available. But I have never paid more than $20 for an upgrade that can be worth HUNDREDS of dollars, and a view that is priceless. ...
Have you ever reached into your pocket to tip someone and your smallest bill is a $10, so you just give it to them because you have to tip something? Here's what I do when I go to Vegas. First, I always bring $20 or so worth of ONES before I even get on the plane. Now you are prepared to tip the cabbie, the bellhop, etc. once you arrive. I always rent a car, and valet is free, but you should always tip the valet. Once you check into your room, and make your way to the casino, exchange another $50 bill for ONES. Now whenever you leave your room for the day, grab 20 singles or so JUST FOR TIPPING. Believe me, you will receive better service everywhere you go. These employees make a living from YOUR gratuity.
Typically in the casinos drinks are free. HOWEVER, you still must tip ($1+USD) per drink. If you do not tip the cocktail waitresses you probably will not see them again.
Also, many of the waitresses and bartenders will wait on the men and ignore women only groups. Just be vocal and tip and you'll probably see them again. If you don't get the service you want just go to the next casino. There are plenty of waitresses who would love to wait on you and another casino who won't mind taking your money! :)
Tipping is a long established custom in Las Vegas. A quick tip for services provided is always a good thing. If someone goes out of their way for you, show your appreciation. Everyone knows the regular people to tip, but do remember the folks you ask to take a picture for you, the bartender on the patio lounge, etc.
When you're hard at work at the slots or the tables, the 'cocktail' waitresses will take care of you, so long as you take care of them. Tip them at least a dollar each time they bring you a drink and they will take care of you as long as you are gambling.
Many staff in Las Vegas earn US$5.15 or less an hour and rely on their tips to buy everyday essentials - do your bit for them and they'll take care of you.
While Las Vegas sometimes projects an image of the tourist gambler seated in front of a slot machine, sipping on free drinks and wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops, but there is another side to Las Vegas that is much more refined and the image you project can make a difference in several matters--specifically, your accelerated entrance to locations with lines and extra service with a smile ahead of others.
Blue jeans, shorts, sandals and similar casual clothing is not preferred (and sometimes, not acceptable) in some establishments. I always make it a point to dress nicely when attending shows or taking transportation somewhere. You will be noticed first by either hosts/hostesses or maitre d's and the like, and oftentimes you will be approached by them first thinking you may be someone of importance and also someone that will tip accordingly.
On my most recent trip, I was able to get VIP seating in several venues simply by dressing appropriately and discreetly tipping the host $10 on one occasion and $20 the other. Both times, I was offered immediate service.
Las Vegas is tourist-driven and the people working in this industry do rely on tips to an extent. When exceptional service is provided, be prepared to tip accordingly (carry $1's and $5's).
The convenience of tipping on the front end can mean less time working your way to a service desk, a bar, etc. as the help will come to you.
All countries differ on their tipping, whether you do or dont is entirely up to you but please take into consideration that all Hospitality workers in Las Vegas are taxed on an average earnings from tips...so whether they receive them or not, they are still taxed AND their wages are really low. So heres a few general tips on the amount one should give when receiving good service.
15-20% on table service for food and drink
A token tip if you serve yourself.
$1 per drink on all free drinks whilst gambling.
$1-$2 per bag to hotel personal for taking bags to room
$2 valet parking.
$2 a day for room maids
$1-$2 for Taxi drivers.
Tipping seems almost obligatory so make sure you always have a decent supply of $1 bills on you. Perhaps because it is so expected you shouldn't find people hanging around for a tip so you don't feel pressurised or uncomfortable if you choose not to tip them. The only people I definitely refused to tip were the self important bell boys outside the hotels who would beckon a cab from the taxi rank a few yards away and open the door for you. It almost seems that the taxi drivers are told not to move until "called" by the bell boy so that he can pretend he has provided a service and justify a tip.
If you are going to Vegas to try your hand at being a player at the tables, tipping is a must, especially if you have a preferred casino or a preferred table. You want to make friends with the pit boss and the dealers, and tipping helps this out. My general rule is, if you're winning, tip 10%,if you win big, be as generous as you want, and if you're losing, tip you're change. Also, always tip the drink girls. Some of these drinks are $10 or more in clubs, so, giving up a couple bucks on tip is still saving you money! and, the better you tip, I swear that drink comes twice as fast the next time.
Lets face it. We all work for money and the more money we make the better. It is customary to toke or tip nearly everyone in Vegas that gives you good service. Valet, dealers, room service, cabbies and all of our favorite...the BARTENDER etc. Most of us work for minimum wage. If you are a local, we tend to tip 10% so if we hit a royal for $1000, we toke $100. It's only fair you toke everyone that takes care of you, you come here, we show you a great time and we let you drive like wild people and run over us and each other and we have everything you need and then we have to clean up after you and get everything ready for the next tourist. Besides, we are going to need the extra money to have water delivered to fill up Lake Mead.
The staff that walk the floor, do payouts etc., can be your best friends. They see the action, they know the winning machines, they can direct you to a 'good' machine. Some machines tend to pay out more than others, and it never hurts to get an opportunity to try your luck.
Be pleasant, polite, and treat them well, and don't be afraid to ask them for advice. On the other hand, they aren't fortune tellers, they don't know when, or if, the machine will 'hit' while you playing it.
It pays to be kind to the person who checks you in to your hotel, because they decide in which room you will stay. Granted, there are times when availability is low, so the agent has little choice, but depending on when you check in, you may be able to get a room with a view or possibly an upgrade. Sometimes this can be as simple as just asking.
Having worked on the Strip, I can tell you that a smile and good attitude can get you far (and sadly with some agents, greasing their palm helps). With the good folks, you do your best at putting them in a decent room... and with the sour apples... well, you try to put them where they belong.
There are absolutely no cultural customs here, much less any faux pas in Las Vegas (except stiffing/ refusing to tip) And for the love of gawd please don't wear those fanny packs. They tempt people to hoard their money and hinder appropriate tipping. Furthermore, mounted in the front or back they just look ridiculous and in 7 years i've never heard of a single pickpocketing incident. Mullets also look ridiculous by the way, especially with a fanny pack, black socks and sandals.
And if you want to be completely immersed in the Las Vegas scene (the real one) just hang around the corner of Fremont and LV Blvd.(Strip). You will see one of the most amazing cross sections of humanity you'll find anywhere. Plenty of mullets and way too many fannypacks. Sure to please!
When in Vegas, remember that a lot of the people depend on their tips to live. Average tips are:
Waitresses: at least 20% of the total bill.
Taxi Drivers: 10% of fare.
Bartenders: About a dollar per drink. If you are playing video poker and hit something, it is usually 10% of what you win (up to $1000).
Cocktail Waitresses: $1 per drink.
Dealers: Not expected, but nice to tip something if the dealer gives you a good run. They usually switch tables every 20 - 30 minutes, so get them before they move tables.
Bellmen: About $5.
Maids: Depends on how much you mess up the room during your stay.
Room Service: About 20%.
Casino Employees: About 10% of jackpot (if your lucking enough to hit something.) There is a limit though. If you hit over $1000, it isn't usually expected to go over $100 for tip. Feel free to though if you get good service.
Show Ushers: The more you tip, the better the seats. Usually $20-40, depending on the show.