Comp Drink Monitoring Hits Casino Floor at Westgate

Due to our affinity for the hooch, we’ve kept our eye on casino comp drink monitoring for some time now. Now, we’re watching Westgate.

It all started with Mirage using vouchers to ensure guests were playing at a rate, and amount, to warrant their comped drinks.

Comped (or complimentary) drinks, of course, are the “free” drinks players earn while gambling.

Westgate Las Vegas

You remember the Westgate. Westgate was originally the International Hotel, then Las Vegas Hilton and LVH.

The practice of giving gamblers comped drinks has been around since the earliest days of Las Vegas, but now casinos are focused on the bottom line, and taking their cue from the Mirage, they’re using technology to ensure a return on their liquor investment.

It was a pretty big deal when Caesars Entertainment rolled out an automated, “red light, green light” drink monitoring system to all its bar top video poker machines.

Early reaction to comp drink monitoring was decidedly negative (ours included), but we quickly learned it wasn’t just beneficial for the casinos. Such systems mainly affect guests looking to get something (free, unlimited drinks) for nothing (“I put my dollar in the machine!”).

You know who you are.

In mid-2017, we reported comp drink monitoring systems would be coming to the casino floor, and that’s exactly what’s happened at Westgate.

The resort’s new system could be a glimpse into the future of free drinks in Las Vegas casinos.

Westgate recently unveiled its new loyalty club, WOW. “WOW stands for “World of Westgate.” The loyalty club launch coincided with the introduction of a new way to get drinks while you’re play slots.

Westgate loyalty club WOW

Is it “WOW Rewards is here” or “WOW Rewards are here?” We are a blog, not a grammarian.

A martini glass symbol on the slot machine’s video display gives players access to a remote drink ordering system. This is actually awesome. No more waiting for a waitress to take your order.

Westgate Las Vegas

Your slot machine just became a cocktail waitress remote control.

The new system is tied to your loyalty club card, and we hear using your card, or not, can have an impact on what drinks you can order and whether or not you have the option to order premium liquor brands.

The new system is designated with an unnecessary acronym, “BOSS,” for “Beverage Ordering Service System.”

The drink selection is robust, although as we always warn, know you’re getting generic liquor when you get comps, unless you see someone pouring from a bottle. The liquor swap applies to all Las Vegas casinos, by the way, so watch every pour. Or order bottled beer.

In a shocking move, we blew right by the rum and Coke option, going instead for a more whimsical drink popular with co-eds, Sex on the Beach.

Westgate Las Vegas

Now, if you could actually order sex on the beach from your slot machine, that would really be a leap forward. Note the ability to add the drink as a “favorite.” Your preferences follow you around on your loyalty club card.

The system accepts your order and shoots it to a service bar. The waitress uses an app to track who’s ordered what and where you’re playing.

It’s all pretty sophisticated stuff, although we hear the kinks are still being worked out. Apparently, WiFi reception isn’t great in the Westgate’s casino, so waitresses often have to bypass the use of their app.

It’s slick to see the name of your cocktail waitress, and the display even provides a status report on your drink.

Westgate drink monitoring

Sandra isn’t a robot yet. Yet.

There are few things more magical than the words “Drink Order Pending.”

Westgate

We’re pretty sure these devices are from Bally Systems, part of Scientific Games. They know a little something about Pavlovian responses.

We sort of did our own status report by timing the delivery time of our drink. It was about four minutes.

Westgate drink monitoring

Yes, we have issues. We’re not saying we don’t have issues.

Presumably, if you order a drink at one machine, then switch machines, a waitress can still find you if you use your player’s club card. Typically, you’d have to hope the waitress remembers you when you order and is able to somehow track you down.

All good stuff, right?

Well, it’s all fun and games until the drink monitoring kicks in.

So, after a couple of minutes, we attempted to order another drink, and the BOSS put the kibosh on that right quick.

The system prevents ordering another drink before 15 minutes has passed. We suspect that isn’t related to amount or rate of play, or tier level. That’s an over-serving thing.

Westgate drink monitoring

You’re a slot machine, not our mom!

The prevention of over-serving is one of the casino industry’s go-to arguments for drink monitoring. There’s sort of a standard of three drinks per hour in the industry, and if you figure in 15 minutes per drink, with a five minute delivery time, that math fits the guideline.

Another selling point for this type of system is the savings in costs, including labor.

Waitresses can presumably cover a larger area because the ordering component of the process is removed, even with some trouble-makers who are ordering the old-fashioned way. You know, with human interaction.

Which sort of speaks to one of the potential problems of such automated systems. Removing or reducing the human touch of interacting with your waitress is a potential pitfall.

As with comp drink monitoring, it changes the casino experience, and may do so in unexpected ways.

We stepped back from these thoughts for a minute to win a jackpot.

Westgate slot jackpot

Slot machines, the way nature intended.

You can bet the Culinary Union isn’t going to love the implementation of such systems, especially if it means a reduction in the workforce to save costs. The union is about to enter into negotiations with Las Vegas casino companies, and we’d bet money there will be lots of chatter about automation and how it affects their membership.

This isn’t the first casino with a remote ordering system (Venetian and Palazzo’s Drinks2U system broke that ground in Vegas, and it’s not uncommon at casinos in other cities), but it’s the first time we’ve seen it used as Westgate has.

The launch of the system hasn’t been without its glitches, from what we hear.

When it debuted, the system let customers order any liquor, even premium liquor, with no restrictions. That’s all been resolved. Unfortunately.

Drink ordering system aside, Westgate remains an enigma on The Strip.

Westgate

Westgate was once home to “Star Trek: The Experience.” Remnants of it remain.

Ridiculously large sports book. Annoying, inescapable live music in the casino (couple with a blaring P.A. system straight from the poker room). Generally lifeless staff. Lots of timeshare salespersons.

Not to mention this awkward slot machine.

Versailles slot machine

Has no one at Westgate actually seen the movie?

On the bright side, the slots at Westgate feel loose (a too-rare feeling on The Strip), and those free drinks are just a touch or two away.

Westgate Las Vegas Elvis statue

The hand of the Elvis statue in the Westgate’s lobby is a must-rub Las Vegas icon, much like Steve Wynn.

Westgate is among the first to implement this comped drink delivery and monitoring system, but it won’t be the last time you see it.

For better or worse (it’s both), welcome to the new normal in Las Vegas.

33 thoughts on “Comp Drink Monitoring Hits Casino Floor at Westgate

  1. Bouldersteve

    If they put a decent amount of liquor in a drink then this would not be so bad but with the short pours and having to wait 15 minutes between drinks actually it’s more like at least a half hour when include the delivery time. For now there are other better choices to spend my money. It’s not like the Westgate was that great to begin with.

    Reply
    1. Manybar Goatfish

      That’s funny. I’ve actually had a cocktail waitress cop an attitude on me because I was drinking my beers too fast, and I was tipping her five bucks a beer. I wasn’t being an a-hole at all. I was just starting out. LOL We’re talking Coors Light. That stuff is weaker than Lipton Tea.

      Reply
      1. Bouldersteve

        The first time I had heard of this 15 minute bullshit I was at the Downtown Grand. I had a shot of Jack..short pour of course. Was playing DDB poker at the bar and hit 4 Aces w/kicker. Asked for another and was told I would have to wait. I showed the bartender my machine and said ..really do you want me to

        Reply
        1. Vegas Todd

          Sorry yo hear about that. We were at the Grand last Aug. and we had no such trouble getting drinks. Ofcourse we were drinking Heinie lights.

          Reply
    1. Hundley Fan

      I don’t know from Queen of Versailles, but the pay table for the machine looks just like that of a Double Diamonds machine. I love Double Diamonds.

      Reply
      1. Vegas Todd

        Me too. I won a grand on $1 Double Diamonds at the Orleans.
        Needless to say, I made my good fortune, my cocktail waitress’s too.
        After a couple of healthy tips, she upgraded my vodka tonics to a tall glass. Thanks Rhonda!!

        Reply
  2. William Wingo

    “…Annoying, inescapable live music in the casino… Generally lifeless staff… Lots of timeshare salespersons….” and now comped-drink meters on the floor. What’s not to like?
    This “xxxx the customer” attitude will come back and bite them sooner or later–it’s just a question of when.

    Reply
    1. Manybar Goatfish

      I know what you mean. But I know the place quite well. You can’t really argue (at least not sanely) that the Super Book isn’t the most amazing sportsbook in the world.

      Reply
  3. Vegas Todd

    The Westgate should be looking for more ways to get customers in their doors, as they are out of the way, and this is a turn off. I will NOT be making the extra effort to gamble in a casino that is tight with their drinks.

    Reply
  4. Jerrad

    They have a similar drink ordering system in place at Harrah’s New Orleans. We visit there somewhat often and rarely play slots, however, it was definitely in place there in February. Wouldn’t surprise me if they are trying their system out there and other location before moving it to Vegas. Times are changing. I’ll be at the craps table either way!

    Reply
    1. Mike

      I was at Harrah’s Nola in February and they had loosened their drink comps for a first time in a couple years. Used to be domestic beer only at bartop VP poker — at least the ones I played. I was able to get a craft IPA no problem last time. I haven’t been able to get liquor at slots there for a while, though.

      Reply
  5. Donna Kelly Peterson

    When I first heard about this, it sounded like you had to play a certain amount of money to even get a drink. I see nothing wrong with this. I’ve been in casinos for hours gambling with no sight of a cocktail waitress, and if you get one then good luck with them coming around again. At least with this system, you can actually get drinks, and three an hour sounds pretty good.

    Reply
    1. Scott Roeben

      Exactly! On other monitoring systems, you do have to maintain a certain amount of play and rate, but doesn’t appear to be the case at Westgate. Just a time limitation.

      Reply
  6. Manybar Goatfish

    Some people are not getting it. If you are actually gambling, this system has built-in value for you. You will still get your free drinks, and probably faster than you would’ve before “monitoring” was implemented. If you’re pretending to gamble to get free drinks, that game isn’t going to work for you anymore. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost several hundred dollars extra while waiting a half hour for a five dollar beer to be delivered to me at a blackjack table. Hey, I never claimed to have a degree in accounting.

    Reply
    1. VegasSlushy

      If they can get me three drinks every hour, i’m winning. Sometimes the drinks have come at a faster clip the old-fashioned way, but more often, I’m lucky to see more than two in an hour.

      Reply
      1. Manybar Goatfish

        The only times I’ve been treated with certain kindness, is at sportsbooks. Make a nice sized bet, show them a ten and ask for some drink tickets. Don’t place all your bets at once. They’ll decide they like you, and every time you return to place another bet, tip them again and they’ll generously peel off more drink tickets. I usually give a lot of mine away to strangers. It’s fun. I can’t drink that much.

        Reply
    1. Scott Roeben

      The bean counters have taken over, so it’s not surprising they’re looking at comps and freebies. All these things have hard costs, so charging for them is creating a big impact for their bottom lines.

      Reply
      1. Mike L

        Maybe a solution to that would be to program in an exception for players with a higher tier player’s club card. Make that limit 5 minutes instead of 15 minutes for players who are one or two tiers up in their loyalty card and take it away completely for top-tier players.

        Reply
        1. Bouldersteve

          One size does not fit all. Let the bartenders be the judge. They know who is trying gain the system. If the casino does not trust them to make that decision then maybe they should hire different people.

          Reply
          1. Mike L

            Yeah, I definitely agree. I’m referring more to the machines on the floor. I was at the Plaza and I saw some guy who was barely playing, flag down different cocktail waitresses every few minutes. He was sitting at an end machine near the bar area, so a bunch of them were passing by him. People like him are ruining it for us…

  7. Jayne McKay Greenaway

    It’s too bad, we travel from Edmonton, Alberta Canada and it’s cold here, so going to Las Vegas for us…is a treat. It’s hot there, we love the shows and do some gambling too. We do not take anything for granted nor are we troublemakers (we are in our late 50’s) however, when we go to Vegas, we love to have fun. We love the people and the staff and waitresses/waiters-they are fantastic! We always tip-we do have a budget for gambling as we are average income earners. One Casino here in Edmonton, only allows 4 drinks in an 8-10 hour period. I do not go there anymore. We’ve heard that a lot of people have complained about this Casino. They are and will lose a lot of business when treating customers terribly-plus drinks/booze is not free in Canada. I hope not all Casino’s in Las Vegas, Nevada adopt this idea. Now I wish we could go to Las Vegas! Take care everyone! Jayne!

    Reply
  8. Jayne McKay Greenaway

    I mean’t to say 3 drinks per hour are good for me, it’s just I do not want to be spied upon…

    Reply
  9. JusMeJim

    If someone has to have a drink every 15 or 20 minutes they not only have a gambling problem, but also a drinking problem.

    Reply
    1. Mike

      Lots of people drink immoderately in Vegas. (Last I saw, the city doesn’t discourage it). It doesn’t mean they need to go to an AA meeting in Henderson.

      Reply

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