Comp Drink Validation to Be Rolled Out to Thousands of Slots on Las Vegas Casinos Floors

Another tectonic shift is coming to Las Vegas casinos, and we’ve got an exclusive look at what’s in store.

Back in Sep. 2016, we first reported comp drink validation systems were being installed at all casino bars with video poker at Caesars Entertainment resorts.

The purpose of the comp drink validation systems is to ensure guests are playing enough to warrant free drinks. Getting free drinks, of course, is a longtime tradition in Las Vegas casinos.

The bartop drink validation system measures a guest’s rate of play, and shows a red light or green light to bartenders. Green light, you get your free drink. Red light, you need to either step up your play, or pay for your drink.

Caesars comped drinks

Blue means you’re gambling, green means you’re due a free drink, red means you’re SOL.

Reaction to our original story about comp validation systems was strong, made local and international news and was not especially positive.

In short order, though, just about everyone realized (including this blog) that such systems have no effect on the typical player. They merely serve to deter those who want something for nothing, and provide bartenders a tool to do what they’ve always done—provide free drinks based upon a guest’s rate and level of play.

Ardent drink validation system

These are the drink monitoring devices currently in use at casino bars with video poker machines. But wait, there’s more.

Now, the company that makes and installs the drink validation system for bartops, Las Vegas-based Ardent Progressive Systems & Games, is about to field test a variation of the system for slots across the entire casino floor.

Albert Tabola, an Account Executive with Ardent, says his company currently has developed the next generation of comp drink validation devices, and they’re poised to implement them in thousands of slot machines across casino floors throughout Las Vegas and beyond.

Here’s a first look.

Ardent comp validation system

This simple device is about to change everything.

“Gaming approval has been given, so now we’ll be able to move on to the casino floor machines,” says Tabola.

At the moment, the company has about 1,000 drink validation units on bartop video poker machines. Slots on the casino floor can number in the thousands, from about 1,000 in a smaller casino to upwards of 3,000 in a Strip resort.

The benefit to casinos is fairly obvious. Ardent says one of its casino clients has already saved $1 million in comped drink costs at a single location.

But is there a case to be made drink monitoring has benefits to customers as well?

Tabola and the casinos say “yes.”

For starters, Tabola says his company’s Comp Anywhere comp validation system “will hopefully eliminate some of the arguments and headaches the cocktail waitresses encounter.” Customers looking for freebies without playing have long been a frustration for front line casino employees.

Giving cocktail servers a tool to easily determine if a player has earned a comp could dramatically speed up drink service for gamblers. We would be a huge fan of that particular outcome.

Las Vegas cocktail waitress

Not gonna lie, we were sort of just looking for an excuse to share photos of a Las Vegas cocktail waitress.

Drink validation systems have already proven useful in deterring customers from taking up machines they’re not playing.

“If you’ve been in a casino, you know them, you’ve seen them,” says Ardent’s Tabola. “They play a penny, then sit and wait for the cocktail waitress. We’re trying to solve the operator’s problem of players trying to get something for nothing.”

While Tabola acknowledges some guests are resistant to the use of validation technology, he’s seen reactions evolve as staffers and customers become accustomed to the machines.

“The feedback from casino staff has changed dramatically since the machines were first rolled out. I remember when we first installed these, the bartenders said, ‘This is just another whip you’re cracking on me,’ but after two to three months, they’ve said, ‘This is actually really great, I love this because it lets me clear my bar out of the people that are taking up space.”

The bottom line is there are lots of places to spend time in a casino, but machines are intended for those who are gambling.

Elvis slots

If you can get used to Elvis with a fanny pack, you can adjust to comp drink validation systems on the casino floor.

So, business and philosophy aside, what rate of play does it take to keep the drinks flowing?

On the current machines, it’s about $4-5 “coin-in” per minute. That can sound daunting until you break it down.

Tabola clarifies, “That’s not as much as it sounds. If you’re playing max bet on a video poker machine, that’s $1.25 a hand. So, if you play four hands every minute, then you’re fine. Typically, they’re playing 15-20 hands a minute.”

He says, “As an example, out of every $20 you play, let’s say the ‘hold’ is 10%, so the casino gets to keep $2. Well, if it costs them .80 for a beer, for a couple of beers, that’s $1.60 out of that $2. That leaves .40 to pay for the salaries, the benefits and everything else. That’s not a lot.”

This is typically the point in our drink monitoring stories when people scream, “Everything is ruined. No more free drinks in Las Vegas!” Ironically, comp drink validation systems may just have the opposite effect.

They may actually save the tradition of free drinks in casinos.

comp validation systems

It’s worth saying again, with a calming blue graphic.

“In the end,” says Tabola, “it’s not that casinos don’t want to give comped drinks, they want to do that. This gives them a way to measure that out and get those drinks to the right people.”

He concludes, “This technology helps make it feasible for the casinos to continue to provide complimentary beverages and not see them say ‘we’re not doing this any more at all because we can’t control the costs.'”

It’s what Vegas insiders have known for some time. Las Vegas casinos are taking a long, hard look at all their loss-leaders, and everything is up for grabs, including free drinks.

Slot machines

Back in the day, comped drinks were an incentive. Now, they’re a reward.

On a related note: Our feeling for some time has been that the practice of comped drinks should end in casinos altogether. We have a fondness for a particular brand of liquor, and we can rarely, if ever, get it on the casino floor because of an insidious and widespread practice we call the liquor brand swap. Ending comped drink service would mean we could just pay for our drink at the table, and we’d get the liquor we actually ordered.

In any event, comped drink validation machines aren’t just the future, they’re here and they’re on their way to Las Vegas casino floors.

Slot machines

Most players won’t even know a drink monitoring system is in place. A light will show a cocktail waitress your rate of play from 10 feet away.

The light colors on the card-reading bezels have yet to be determined (so we may not be able to use “red light, green light” as short hand for the practice), but Tabola says once field testing is complete, installation of the devices can be done “fairly quickly.”

Ultimately, free drinks in casinos have never truly been free. They’re paid for by gambling.

Soon, casino staffers won’t have to guess if you’re playing enough to warrant a free drink, the process will be automated. And that’s the biggest change in the culture and business of Las Vegas casinos in recent memory, with the potential for an even greater financial impact than paid parking.

We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Update (5/3/17): Thanks to KTNV here in Las Vegas for a great segment inspired by our story.

Update (5/2/18): KTNV did a follow-up story as a 90-machine test starts in Laughlin.

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71 thoughts on “Comp Drink Validation to Be Rolled Out to Thousands of Slots on Las Vegas Casinos Floors

  1. Funkhouser

    If I can’t get my booze comp’d in Vegas, why bother flying 3000 miles round-trip? I literally have 3 casinos within an hour drive of my house with much better payback %, that charge also me for my cocktails due to state regulations. Secondly I am okay with play for comp drink system, but what about on demand pricing creeping into drink comping. EG Will casinos use these systems and tweak during peak times or high demand holidays, there by raising the gambling cost for a comp drink? Casinos are already stingy about sharing booze, what level of play warrants a comp, and hate online discussion among players about what percentage of theoretical play is getting returned in form of comps to the player. If this raises the level of service I get for my gambling dollar, I am all for it. However I have never seen an operator share lowered operating costs or profit back to the player.

    Reply
    1. isnin

      It’s only a matter of time before drink comps will be applied against your account…..1099 for drink comps could happen if the “cost” is more than $400 of value (and casinos can set the value of their drinks.)

      Reply
  2. RustyHammer

    So this weeds out the deadbeats. What guarantee do I have that a cocktail waitress will come around any faster? I can see casinos giving the CWs bigger areas to cover and hiring fewer of them under this system. Every penny pinched is another penny for the executive bonus!

    Reply
    1. yetis911

      I suspect that the system will lead the waitress to your machine, when its turns green. I think the days of shoulder tapping a waitress for a drink are over. So I suspect it will happen faster.

      Reply
      1. RustyHammer

        That would be nice, and CWs don’t get tipped for looking pretty, so one would think they’d be incentivized to find the green lights. Whether or not that happens more efficiently, as Cosby would say: “The proof is in the pudding!”

        Reply
        1. AlphaLackey

          I’m not saying you’re a troll but it’s 2017 and you combined Bill Cosby, women, and alcohol in a post. If that wasn’t intentional then you’re a natural talent 🙂

          Reply
          1. RustyHammer

            I can’t help but think of Cosby when I think of proof and/or pudding. Combine Cosby, women and pudding and see where your mind wanders.

            Women and alcohol are just part of a normal conversation when talking about comped beverages at a casino.

  3. bro

    Solution: Play roulette. The game is excruciatingly slow and is best served drunk. Tip $5-$9 per drink and you’ll have several cocktail servers fawning for your attention. Works every time and I’ve never had a problem getting call or top shelf pours if there’s adequate compensation involved.

    Reply
  4. Kevin Rackley

    A lot will depend on the casino. At Cosmo, the system works beautifully, and they’ll comp you their $16 signature cocktails at the first floor Chandelier Bar. At Four Queens, where all the drinks taste like cat urine, not so much.

    Reply
  5. Gal XE Questr

    We avoid paying valet and parking and resort fees Downtown. I’m guessing we can avoid this for a while, yet, too. If our good run of 30-plus Vegas trips finally runs dry, I guess we’ll start checking out alternatives. They’ve already ruined the Strip, anyway.

    Reply
  6. Truckosaurus

    As others have said, I am somewhat skeptical that this move will be beneficial to ‘genuine’ slot players.

    It would make sense that the waitress routes would be enlarged rather than them coming around more frequently.

    Also. It would be frustrating for the player if your light goes green but by the time the waitress appears it has gone red because you’ve briefly paused to look at your phone, pick your nose, eye up some passing totty, etc. When you are playing VP at the bar the barman can slide you another beer as soon as it goes green but at a machine on the floor you have to time your green light to when the waitress is within range.

    (Unless the system is clever enough to keep the green light lit until you are served).

    Finally. I am also assuming that you’ll have to have inserted a player’s club card into the machine to activate the drinks light, which will also benefit the casino.

    Reply
    1. isnin

      A voucher system seems more beneficial to the players but how long until the vouchers expire…24 hours? A red/green light system would be more efficient for cocktail waitresses if a voucher system could turn your light green once you’ve inserted your voucher into the machine to redeem it.

      Reply
      1. Scott Roeben Post author

        I’m not sure all those details have been worked out. Great follow-up question, though.

        Reply
    2. Missy Johnson

      I agree. Also, we sometimes walk from machine, dropping in 20’s, so after five machines we have put in at least $60, wouldn’t that qualify for a beer?

      Reply
  7. Bill

    Yes, as soon as I turn my head to wonder if there is a cocktail waitress nearby, I fear that my light will turn red. Or, I order and need to open my wallet to get some cash out for a tip and this will slow my play down. Will she have to hold my beer back because the light turned red in the time since I ordered? I prefer the voucher system over the red light/green light system, although I don’t know if they could implement that on the slot floor.

    Reply
    1. yetis911

      I would suspect that the system will follow the player. So the system will know when you are due a drink, even if you move your player card. The waitress will likely have a tablet device to clear to drink, once its delivered.

      Reply
  8. EnuffBull

    It has to be asked… how much do you have to play or spend until you get a free cup of pizza casserole?

    Reply
  9. Thomas R Gabrielli

    If this be the case, where I would have to pay for my drinks, then I would not tip the waitress. I know that’s not fair to the waitresses, but then again, it’s not fair to me, either.

    Reply
    1. RustyHammer

      It’s only a matter of time before Caesars is no longer a casino, just a hotel and resort.

      With this neverending supply of millenials that want to spend hundreds per day at the pool and even more at night for bottle service at a fancy nightclub, why bother with comping rooms and hoping gamblers don’t get lucky? Take the sure thing, make it all about the millenials, baby!

      Casino gambling is so 1987.

      Reply
  10. Big Steve

    Have you tried to find a cocktail server on the casino floor lately? It’s like trying to find Bigfoot. I can understand using these at the bars, but drink service at the machines on the main floor really doesn’t come often enough and there are many big action players who don’t drink anything other than water and coffee. In the high limit salons where drink service is better, everyone is playing big action anyway. The Fleas will find a way to scam free drinks even with this system.

    Reply
    1. Steven Brown

      Exactly. Several years ago, I was playing poker with a group of friends at the Golden Nugget and drink service was practically non-existent because whoever did the schedule for cocktail waitresses didn’t assign one to cover the poker room. A server came by twice in about 90 minutes. As members of the group dropped from our tournament, they would go and get drinks for those that needed them. The casino made more money off of group as a result.

      Reply
  11. Danny McMillan

    This would make sense except for the fact that in most casinos, Vegas and elsewhere, comps have been dropping at an alarming rate. Odds on blackjack are less, free play, comped meals, comped hotel stays and other comps have been dropping to the point that it is very noticeable, especially to the casual player

    Reply
    1. Bouldersteve

      I agree this is not that big of a deal for those who gamble but its a slippery slope. When you look at all the other cutbacks in comps including free parking it becomes a big deal..is it a deal breaker?..time will tell.

      Reply
  12. Justin Venners

    “As an example, out of every $20 you play, let’s say the ‘hold’ is 10%, so the casino gets to keep $2. Well, if it costs them .80 for a beer, for a couple of beers, that’s $1.60 out of that $2. That leaves .40 to pay for the salaries, the benefits and everything else. That’s not a lot.”

    Mr. Tabola fails to cover the matter of TIME in this calculation. If you count that they expect $5/minute. Then his theory is that you will get two free drinks every 4 minutes. Anyone in Vegas knows you currently don’t get 2 free drinks every 4 minutes. I don’t care what casino you’re in.

    Now, lets revisit this logic.

    If we are talking about $5/minute and 60 minutes in an hour. We have play amount of $300. The hold would be $30 for that hour. Let us assume some absurd amount of beers in that hour. I’ve never gotten 10 free drinks in an hour. So, one every 6 minutes. 10 x .80 = $8. So the casino’s hold for that hour is $22.00+ on one machine to pay for salaries, benefits, and everything else.

    Reply
    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      That’s a great point. I think the point is you can play a few hands and qualify for a drink. You don’t have to keep playing at that pace. You can literally stop, then start up and play enough to qualify if that’s your thing. Appreciate your thoughts, though.

      Reply
    2. AlphaLackey

      You are correct, but if you stick to video poker and avoid slots on those things, you can get 95% with minimal difficulty. 5% * $1.25 * 240 hands an hour = $15 an hour to gamble and be like a foot away from free drinks. You won’t find any table game experience where your expected loss is only $15/hr during busy times at Caesars.

      Reply
  13. briandtw

    I think this is the money quote:

    “In the end,” says Tabola, “it’s not that casinos don’t want to give comped drinks, they want to do that. This gives them a way to measure that out and get those drinks to the right people.”

    I’m a regular Caesars player and the system has worked to my benefit at the CET resorts I frequent. In the past, it was a pain to try and wrangle a seat at a video poker bar on a busy weekend, but now it’s not as bad and anyone sitting there is also playing. Since the payouts are worse typically on those machines I don’t usually hang around there, but get a drink, tip and move on to a better paying machine. Everybody wins.

    Reply
    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      Yep, I’ve heard that quite a lot and experienced it personally. It doesn’t impact the typical player.

      Reply
    2. AlphaLackey

      Stick to video poker. Yes, the payouts are bad, but if you learn a nearly optimal Jacks or Better strategy, you’ll be losing about 5% of all money wagered. You play 4 hands a minute at $1.25 a hand with 95% payback, that’s 25 cents a minute to keep the green light on, or about $15 an hour.

      I guarantee you $15 an hour is about the cheapest you’ll get any gambling experience at a Caesars property especially when it’s busy. And visible overtipping will ensure that your time is spent very efficiently, if you catch my drift.

      Reply
  14. Todd Guynn

    Is this new casino floor system expecting max bet at the slots? I think the current bar top system expects max bet (which I understand as video poker odds/losses are tame). If I need to play max bet on the slots for a green light at $3 or higher per pull then I won’t be gwtting a drink.

    Reply
    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      You can hit the criteria without max bet, even on the current system (you just have to player more quickly). It’s the coin-in that matters.

      Reply
  15. W.B.

    Is this really any different from what has been going on in the Sportsbooks for years now? I remember the “good old days” when you could watch the game(s) in the sportsbook, maybe place a 5 dollar wager, and drink for free for hours.

    Sooner or later all good things seem to come to an end.

    Reply
    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      Not that different. The bar for getting drinks is just a bit higher now. If by “good things” you mean drinks being a loss leader, yep, those days are ending.

      Reply
  16. Johnny Lawless

    What if the player moves to a different machine just before they’ve earned a drink? They have to earn a drink all over?

    Reply
    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      That’s a great question. I wouldn’t think the amount of play would be limited to one machine. I hop around a lot.

      Reply
  17. Photoncounter

    Best bet if you still want to gamble and drink is BYOB. Cheaper and you don’t have to tip the cocktail waitresses who will be the big losers in all this.

    Get a Gatorade, pour out 1/3, refill with Vodka and some ice and go swell your liver while your wallet implodes.

    Reply
    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      You’re doing Vegas wrong, but I’ve personally experienced the imploding wallet thing.

      Reply
      1. RustyHammer

        CVS is better, but either will do in a pinch. I didn’t try it, but when I was in an off-strip Wags years ago, I saw 6-packs of some beer I had never heard of for $2.99.

        Reply
        1. Photoncounter

          Old Frothingslosh? The Pale Stale Ale with the Foam on the Bottom? Was $1.49 a case when I was an undergrad early ’74 or so. Terrible but we weren’t drinking it for the taste. Made in Pittsburgh.

          Cheap beer gets the job done but with side effects, like a hankering for pizza casserole.

          Reply
  18. jammyjo

    Waiting for those MBA geniuses to come up with a surcharge for gambling. Las Vegas will be reclaimed by the desert.

    Reply
    1. RustyHammer

      It’s only a matter of time until you pay an ante for a hand of blackjack. That has been done around the country by poker rooms where blackjack isn’t allowed. The ante collected was offset by special bonuses you could win, and MGM will likely try something like that in 2018, and then whittle away the bonus payouts in order to keep more of the ante. It’s brilliant!

      Reply
      1. William Wingo

        In Oklahoma, Blackjack has antes already. Last time I was there, it was fifty cents for bets under $100 and one dollar for bets of $100 or more. They keep the ante win, lose, or push, and give you nothing in return. Mathematically, for the small bettor, it’s worse than six-to-five. I haven’t been back in a while, but I’m pretty sure it hasn’t gotten any better.

        The Strip casinos would do it tomorrow if they thought people would keep playing it. Maybe even on top of six-to-five. After all, the customer is too dumb to know the difference and has plenty of money to throw away.

        Reply
  19. philinphoenix

    “Ardent says one of its casino clients has already saved $1 million in comped drink costs ata single location.” Am I the onlyone who calls bullshit on this? A million
    dollars saved? In ONE location? In the short time the system has been in
    operation? And in operation ONLY at the
    bars? BULLSHIT!

    ““If you’ve been in a casino, you know them, you’ve seen them,” says Ardent’s Tabola. “They play a penny, then sit and wait for the cocktail waitress.” No, I don’t see them. I’m not really looking for them, but the people I’m playing around seem to play max bet on vp and at least one credit per every line on a slot. I don’t know
    how I’m missing the people Tabola talks about, since he makes it sound like the
    casinos are flooded with them.

    “On a related note: Our feeling for some time has been that the practice of comped
    drinks should end in casinos altogether. We have a fondness for a particular
    brand of liquor, and we can rarely, if ever, get it on the casino floor because
    of an insidious and widespread practice we call the liquor brand swap. Ending comped drink service would mean we could just pay for our drink at the table, and we’d get the liquor we actually ordered.” Really? REALLY? So because YOU can’t get the booze you want, everyone else should pay for drinks while gambling? Here’s a few ideas: tip when you order your special request drink, then tip again when thy bring it. You might be surprised. If they can’t serve it, find a place that can serve it and play there. If that fails, go to the bar, order what yo want, pay for it, and leave everybody else out of it. Oh, and try not to choke on it.

    The entire article reads more like a press release written by some pr hack for MGM or CET or even Ardent. Maybe it was. They don’t usually put their names on those
    releases. And the shill who wrote this didn’t put a name on it either.

    I go to Vegas for 2-5 night trips 3 or 4 times a year. I have paid for a room once since the 1980’s. I’m Diamond with CET so not only have comp’d rooms, but don’t pay resort fees or parking when on the strip. I’m comp’d at a few places downtown, so no resort fees or parking there either. I’m not much of a drinker and can usually count the number of alcohol drinks I have on a trip on one hand.

    None of the latest Vegas greed tactics really impact me financially.

    So why do I hate them?

    Because they are just more reasons for the bland, greedy corporate suits to strip Vegas of its truly unique qualities and turn the city from the most unique place in the world into just another tourist destination. Detheme the properties. Cut back
    on service. Nickel and dime the customer to death. Cut the odds.

    Maybe I’ve been going to Vegas for too long.

    Reply
    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      I appreciate your thoughts, even the insulting and misguided ones. And yes, I want to be able to gamble at a table and get the drink I order. I’d rather pay for that than get whatever swill casinos decide they want to give me. My name is on every story on the blog because I am its sole contributor. You are a guest here, my blog (a hobby, not a job), so civility is not just requested, it’s required. I believe this article presents both sides of this news fairly. You can disagree with one or the other side, but the accusation I’m somehow doing PR for MGM or Caesars or Ardent is misinformed, wrong and rude.

      Reply
  20. philinphoenix

    “Ardent says one of its casino clients has already saved $1 million
    in comped drink costs ata single location.” Am I the onlyone who calls
    bullshit on this? A million dollars saved? In ONE location? In the
    short time the system has been in operation? And in operation ONLY at
    the bars? BULLSHIT!

    ““If you’ve been in a casino, you know them, you’ve seen them,” says
    Ardent’s Tabola. “They play a penny, then sit and wait for the cocktail
    waitress.” No, I don’t see them. I’m not really looking for them, but
    the people I’m playing around seem to play max bet on vp and at least
    one credit per every line on a slot. I don’t know how I’m missing the
    people Tabola talks about, since he makes it sound like the casinos are
    flooded with them.

    “On a related note: Our feeling for some time
    has been that the practice of comped drinks should end in casinos
    altogether. We have a fondness for a particular brand of liquor, and we
    can rarely, if ever, get it on the casino floor because of
    an insidious and widespread practice we call the liquor brand swap.
    Ending comped drink service would mean we could just pay for our drink
    at the table, and we’d get the liquor we actually ordered.” Really?
    REALLY? So because YOU can’t get the booze you want, everyone else
    should pay for drinks while gambling? Here’s a few ideas: tip when you
    order your special request drink, then tip again when thy bring it.
    You might be surprised. If they can’t serve it, find a place that can
    serve it and play there. If that fails, go to the bar, order what you
    want, pay for it, and leave everybody else out of it.

    The entire article reads more like a press release written by some pr hack for MGM or CET or even Ardent. Maybe it was. They don’t usually put their names on those releases. And the shill who wrote this didn’t put a name on it either.

    I go to Vegas for 2-5 night trips 3 or 4 times a year. I have paid for
    a room once since the 1980’s. I’m Diamond with CET so not only have
    comp’d rooms, but don’t pay resort fees or parking when on the strip.
    I’m comp’d at a few places downtown, so no resort fees or parking there
    either. I’m not much of a drinker and can usually count the number of
    alcohol drinks I have on a trip on one hand.

    None of the latest Vegas greed tactics really impact me financially.

    So why do I hate them?

    Because they are just more reasons for the bland, greedy corporate
    suits to strip Vegas of its truly unique qualities and turn the city
    from the most unique place in the world into just another tourist
    destination. Detheme the properties. Cut back
    on service. Nickel and dime the customer to death. Cut the odds.

    Maybe I’ve been going to Vegas for too long.

    Reply
  21. AccessVegas

    The issue is perception. The perception in the past is that the casino is generous. Whether it be with comped drinks, comparably inexpensive coffee shop food, and cheap or free rooms. It made you almost want to gamble more. Countless times in the 90’s, I’d hit a $1.99 coffee shop special, and then lose a roll of quarters before I got out the door.

    After I’ve paid for parking, paid $10 for a beer, and paid $16 for a sandwich and fries I could get for $6 anywhere else, I’m just not in the mood to gamble. I feel no obligation to drop a $20 on my way out the door.

    I hear that carrying a flask was some “bright new idea” at #360VV4. Hell, I’ve been carrying one for years to avoid $12 call drinks (when not gambling).

    You didn’t used to have to hit the CVS and pre-game in your room because drinks at the bars were cheap.

    My point is, there is a cause and effect to the perception. And, the perception of Las Vegas is changing at a whiplash speed.

    Reply
    1. Buckeye Fan614

      My thoughts exactly! Have to wonder if there is a chicken and egg scenario developing. Are people really gambling less or are all of these “charges” CAUSING people to gamble less. Last June I was walking down the strip went in Caesars on my way to Bellagio. Walked up to the first bar I came to, ordered a drink, bartender quickly brought my drink and I asked him how much. He said “nothing” and I hadn’t even attempted to gamble. His generosity earned him a $10 tip and I lost $20 in the VP machine in front me. Had a great conversation with bartender and fun playing VP. Had he charged me the $13 – $16 for my drink, I would have walked away, the casino would have made at least $4 less and the bartender would have gotten a much smaller tip.

      Reply
      1. Ray Matheny

        I think you made a really good point Buckeye. All the talk has been about how the gambling drop has diminished in Las Vegas but that could very well be that the customers who have gambling and the comps that go with that as their number one priority have moved on to other locations where the gambler is still king of the casino.

        Reply
      2. AccessVegas

        As much as the bean counters feel that they are reacting to changing trends, I believe they are the ones who created the changing trends. Gaming numbers downtown are increasing 10x that of The Strip (in terms of percentage). If gambling itself was on the decline, we wouldn’t be seeing that.

        Reply
  22. Bill B

    One advantage is, this system should remove the personal factor, It’s not the barman’s fault if your light is red. Argue with the light!

    Reply
  23. Bouldersteve

    Most casino cocktails are lousy. If they were serving them at your neighborhood gin mill the place would go out of business.

    Reply
  24. Rich Johnson

    A bit of a sidebar: At the Horseshoe in Baltimore and Dover Downs in Delaware, I’ve found self-serve soft drink stations. All my Pepsi products/club soda/water/ice needs were met by my very own self. Which lead me to use a slot machine close to the drink station. Which lead to… not much winning. Hmmm…..

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    1. Josh_rocker1

      There used to a locals casino that did this but had to quit because people were coming in and loading up pitchers of soda and then walking out.

      Reply
        1. Josh_rocker1

          The M was the resort I was specifically thinking of in Las Vegas. Here in Missouri where I live they used to have self service soda but it’s been awhile since I was last there. I’m one of those rare people who rarely gambles at home and saves it for those vegas blowouts where I then go crazy.

          Reply
  25. Josh_rocker1

    My objection to this is they’ll start it out reasonably. Almost everyone will qualify for a free drink if they’re playing. Once players are used to the system that’s when they’ll start tightening it and most players will find that they no longer qualify for a free drink.

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  26. Matt Olson

    If they stop giving free drinks two things will happen: 1. Cocktail waitresses will no longer get tips and 2. Tourists will no longer travel to Vegas…what’s the point? I’ll stay in PA and gamble at Mohegan where the drinks are free

    Reply
  27. Rob Taylor

    Ticket and red light / green light systems are not the real story. Somewhere along the way, what was once a loss leader for casinos is now a revenue stream. If the casino operators of the 70’s and 80’s knew that a casino was charging $7 or $8 for a bottle of Coors, they would be turning over in their graves, (those that aren’t encased in cement). I have been going to Vegas since 1981 but I don’t recall the bar-top scene taking off until the mid 80’s. Still, drink prices back then for non-gamblers reflected the beverage department as taking a back seat to the casino operations. The problem can be solved not by closer monitoring of play, but by charging less for a drink. Charge 3 bucks for that beer. Install a liberal ticket system in your bar-tops and 1 ticket gets you your free drink, or wait until you get 2 and then get your craft beer, special martini, or Verbeena. As players, we also want it all now. Back in the day, you ordered a vodka tonic, rum and coke, screwdriver, etc. Now, we want the fire breathing dragon. Make no mistake about it, the casinos want to make money on alcohol sales, they are either charging you the $8 dollars, or presenting you 6-5 JOB. The real question is how much the strip casinos can squeeze out of us, not how they want to make comped drinks an equitable event.

    Reply
  28. Missy Johnson

    At the end of the article they talk about paying for my drink, which I wouldn’t mind but am I getting a discount now because I’m gambling? I don’t feel I should be betting 1.25 a spin and then paying 12 for my vodka-soda

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  29. Jonathon Bartlett

    What I’m curious about is when this comp system hits the non-video poker slots. For example, the machines like China Shores sometimes hit bonuses that are over 100, 300, and sometimes higher free spins. The current Player Tracking system stops recognizing a Players Card after a certain number of free spins, so does that mean that at some point in a killer free spin bonus, you lose your comp drink status and have to start over? I’m a pretty decent gambler, but sometimes if I’m losing a lot I just play .30 a spin for awhile until I build back up, does that mean I would no longer be eligible for free drinks? It may sound silly, but the free drinks are part of the excitement for me. Otherwise I’d just stay in town at the local casinos where I already pay for drinks. I’m cautiously nervous, but I suppose if I’m still getting free rooms in Vegas I’d probably still be getting free drinks too, even at the minimum .30 bet.

    Reply
  30. Bill B

    Over the years we have become very friendly with many of the drinks ladies in downtown Vegas. We talk about lots of subjects.
    Last month I finally asked, “does everyone tip you for their drinks?”
    I was astonished at the reply, which was, THE VAST MAJORITY DON’T TIP AT ALL.
    I’ve noticed for myself, many slot players don’t even acknowledge the lady when she brings the drinks.
    So folks, a lot of us are now getting what we deserve. Validation!

    Reply

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