MGM Resorts to Replace Bartenders With Machines (No, Really)

Can we write a sensational headline, or what?

Thing is, we’re not kidding.

Several sources inside MGM Resorts have confirmed the company will soon roll out automated cocktail dispensing machines in its service bars (also called “well bars”) in Las Vegas and across the country.

That’s right. All those stories you’ve heard about humans being replaced with robots is sort of coming true, and its happening by the end of August 2019, according to our sources.

Smartender

Science meets drunken gambling benders.

MGM Resorts has quietly been testing automated cocktail machines at casinos in other markets (specifically, MGM Springfield in Massachusetts and MGM National Harbor in Maryland). Now, MGM Resorts is bringing those automated bartenders to Las Vegas.

As you may have heard, MGM Resorts is in the first phase of a massive cost-cutting initiative, MGM 2020. The goal is to save $300 million, with $100 million of that coming from savings on labor costs.

MGM 2020 is a “company-wide, business-optimization initiative aimed to leverage a more centralized organization to maximize profitability and, through key investments in technology, lay the groundwork for the company’s digital transformation to drive revenue growth.”

There’s nothing sexier than leveraging, if you ask us.

Dozens of top level MGM Resorts executives are expected to take “voluntary resignation” packages, saving the company millions.

Also in the crosshairs are jobs that can be done through automation and technology.

Lago cocktail

Insert gratuitous cocktail photo (a machine can’t make) here.

While everyone involved with the roll-out of drink dispensing machines have been sworn to secrecy (suck it, NDAs), we’ve heard from several employees they’re bracing for what could be the first wave of machines replacing jobs traditionally done by humans.

It’s no wonder Las Vegas unions dug their heels in during the recent contract negotiations. One of the sticking points: Automation.

It’s clear the union knew changes were coming and did their best to ensure employees losing their jobs would at least be treated fairly. Union leaders and members have said publicly they are “legitimately worried” about touchscreen beverage ordering systems.

It turns out they had good reason to be worried.

While we haven’t been able to confirm who’s making the beverage system coming to MGM Resorts casinos in Las Vegas (a reliable source says it’s a company called Easybar), we found one that illustrates what these machines can do, from a company called Smartender.

Take a look.

Brilliant, really.

Is it wrong we sort of want one for our house?

Basically, a server will put ice in a glass, hit a button, add a garnish and deliver the drink, all without the involvement of a bartender.

Here’s the Easybar teminal.

Easybar

We hear the Easybar cocktail station costs about $30,000, or roughly half what a human union bartender costs.

Here are some of the selling points of the Easybar self-service cocktail station.

Easybar

Seriously, get us one for our birthday.

To be fair, given all the benefits to a business, it would be hard to fault MGM Resorts for making this move.

Among the benefits of these machines: They reduce “overpours” and waste, they’re accurate within 1/20th of an ounce, drinks are recorded in a database and there’s “total accountability” because a company knows precisely who served what and how often.

Also, the company will assert, these machines provide guests a consistent experience across all venues. (At least that’s what they said when we caught them reducing their standard pour size back in 2016.)

MGM Resorts statement

Proof we’ve been annoying MGM Resorts since at least 2016.

So, how much should we freak out?

Unless we’re a service bartender, probably not much. (Actually, the way seniority works, service bartenders are pretty far up the food chain, bartenderwise. So, as they get displaced, they’ll bump others from their positions, and so on, down the line.)

These machines aren’t likely to replace your favorite casino bartender, though. These machines will be used in service bars, bars behind the scenes churning out thousands of drinks for players on the casino floor.

We should mention there are service bars in restaurants, too, and our sources say those bartenders will be phased out as well.

If you tend to freak out about technology in general, well, that autonomous ship has already sailed.

Any number of casino and hotel jobs have already been affected by technology. Gone are the days when casino employees lugged around massive bags of coins, thanks to TITO (ticket in, ticket out) technology.

Recently, hotels have made hotel check-in available through smartphones and kiosks, slashing the number of front desk agents. (Example: Staffing at the front desk of Park MGM has gone from about 15 agents to three following the implementation of check-in kiosks.)

In Vegas, robot room service is a thing. Robots have also taken some concierge jobs.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

Robot bartenders at Tipsy Robot inside Planet Hollywood. They’re a hoot.

We hear, as part of MGM 2020, restaurant cashiers are likely to be a thing of the past at MGM Resorts casinos, too.

Some in the business estimate thousands of MGM Resorts employees will ultimately be affected by the MGM 2020 initiative.

Leveraging and optimizing come at a cost, of course.

You can bet MGM Resorts is looking at what’s happening at Caesars Entertainment and is highly motivated to avoid a similar scenario. (It’s looking more and more like Caesars Entertainment will be sold, or broken up and sold off in pieces.)

If you’re bored, watch us drop this scoop on KLAS, Channel 8 in Las Vegas.

There’s much more to come.

Update (3/6/19): Our story has been confirmed.

71 thoughts on “MGM Resorts to Replace Bartenders With Machines (No, Really)

  1. Dean

    So I’m guessing all these machines will be in areas that the public can’t access? It would be nice if these were self serve so we could just grab a cocktail as we’re walking through the casino.

    Reply
    1. Dana

      Are you serious? Let’s just Phase out all the human jobs, how about yours!! Like they said… it’ll be the rich and the poor, no middle class, no economy either…. we’re suppose to be creating jobs for people!!

      Reply
    2. Acorn

      Hi Dean I’m sorry but you need to think… think about all the people that will lose their jobs over this! All because stock holders & executives are greedy & don’t care about the staff they employ. The same staff that has had guest coming back on vacation and enjoy a familiar face. Knowing when they walk up Sammy will know what they want & bring it right over.
      In case you didn’t realize the service industry is the Nevada industry and it would be detrimental if this takes place.
      So your drink you want to grab & dash because your too cheap to tip appropriately is really costing a lot more than you think!!!!!!!!!

      Reply
      1. Jake W.

        It’s happening and will continue to happen with other jobs as well in America. What we need to be doing is planning for the future instead of trying to stop the advancement from happening, you are not going to stop big corporations from saving millions of doll hairs because you and your family want to keep your jobs. Amazon and Google are already doing it. How many cashiers do you see working when you go into a grocery store or any big chain like Wal-Mart. Mindless labor is being phased out faster than you know it. What we need to be looking at is a plan for the future. And that lies with Andrew Yang and UBI. https://www.yang2020.com/what-is-ubi/

        Reply
        1. Sondra J. Purcell

          Yup!
          Andrew’s got automation covered! Very savvy dude!
          Glad to be on his team…or gang!
          I live on I-40 and now clearly realize what automated trucking will do to my little town!
          Yang2020

          Reply
  2. Danette Sewell

    Do these machines check ID and spot signs that a person may be too toxicated to continue drinking.. I hope they don’t break down like McD’s ice cream machine.. haha

    Reply
    1. Courtney

      As the article says , it’s in the service bars . A service bar is where the cocktails get drinks for the floor . The bartenders will still be in main bars .

      Reply
  3. Andy

    It’s called future and there is nothing to be afraid of. This stuff is not made for us old farts ( I’ll be 46 in june),these things are for those who are about to turn 21 and are already pretty much accustomed to paid parking,resort fees etc etc. MGM did its homeworks and everything will plan and work out accordingly,end of the story. While for the rest of you ( us ) moaners and groaners think about the great time you’ve had back in 1996/1998/2000. Back then our grandpas were all about ” oh,Vegas was so much better back in my days”,remember that ? But reality is there is a right time for everything. We will all meet each other in downtown Las Vegas now,that’s all the Vegas left for us,at least when not taking my 4 years old to Disney….

    Reply
  4. Bogan

    The problem I see is that there is no way these machines will be as quick and efficient as a real bartender, because a real bartender can make multiple drinks at a time and does not have menus to click through to access the catalog of beverages they know how to make. I foresee a queue of cocktail waitresses at the machine waiting to make their drinks and thus making this system less efficient.

    Reply
    1. Kathy

      Absolutely, getting stuck behind waitresses and waiting your turn to get your drinks will be a nightmare! Definitely will slow down customer service! We have stations where waitresses are bringing out 15 drinks or more every round.

      Reply
    2. Mark

      It could be made more efficient if the waitress takes the customers’ orders using a tablet and just needs to get the machine to dispense the pre-ordered drinks.

      Reply
  5. George

    These machines will never be as fast as a professional bartender. Service times will increase customer wait times will increase. Computer breakdown, malfunction and hacking are also am issue. Plus the allure of a beautiful person behind the bar is gone.
    Good luck.

    Reply
    1. Dana

      Yep it is the future, fucked up future if you ask me! I’m feeling sorry for our children, our grand children!!
      If worked for mgm now for a while, & if seen a big difference in the quality of the people we now have. Cutting corners as much as possible I believe will only hurt in the long run!!

      Reply
  6. Derrick Moran

    The worst idea I ever heard, profits over people. This basically is for the shareholders. Furthermore, as a bartender I still bet at 50 I can pour more drinks per hour than this robot thing.

    Reply
    1. That One Guy

      Profits over people? LOL!

      People placed profits over themselves with cries for unrealistic wage hikes and cry about the consequences. It’s the same for fast food chains and their kiosks. These people made their bed and now they will have to lay in it.

      Good night!

      Reply
    2. Keith

      A modern day John Henry !

      Unfortunately, it’s going to happen. The end of John Henry was not terribly uplifting. What we need is a plan to offset the pure misery that will come from too much automation. The automation will keep happening. Public companies operate at the behest of the investors and they demand profits over people. So it is coming.

      Kurt Vonnegut’s — _Player Piano_ has been on my mind a lot lately.

      Reply
    3. Sandie

      What happens to chatting up with the bartender? That’s one of the pleasantries of sitting, enjoying a cocktail and chatting with the bartender. How boring can a drink get?? Stupid idea. Not thinking of consumer only thinking of the owners/shareholders.l

      Reply
  7. Eddie Sandoval

    Really Bring Back The Mob they might have skimmed the casinos to avoid paying the garbage pail Irs but they took care of there employees they made people feel special as they dropped there$$ in there casinos they gave good deals on rooms and food these Corporations dont care about shit just bottom line and anyone who thinks its being old to talk like this is a fool peoples jobs and careers replaced by machines WOW its bad enough you have to play certain amounts at ceasers run casinos and others just to get one drink and wait forever for another your better off at indian casino cause you wind up buying your drinks anyway having to spend a small fourtune just to get a few drinks just this ex ceasers gamblers opinion

    Reply
  8. Kirby

    I will take my business elsewhere, your putting hard working mothers and fathers out of a job just for your profits.. where is the personable interaction to keep you there.. this is ridiculous. Enjoy your wealth now cause your not taking it with you.

    Reply
      1. Tommie

        Brian Can’t tell if you are being laughably naive, ridiculously Near sighted, or Callously condescending….but this is just the most recent public wave ….. remember “First, they came for the front desk associate, but YOU WERE NOT a Front Desk Associate… So YOU said NOTHING, Then they came for the Service Bartender… But YOU were NOT a Service Bartender… So YOU said NOTHING…. What is it YOU do for a Living …. BRIAN? When THEY come for YOU and there’s NO ONE left to SAY ANYTHING…. Will it be SAD IRONY??? or JUSTIFIED KARMA ?

        Reply
    1. Barbara Frantz

      The MGM sucks. They have covered up the largest mass shooting in history! Maybe if they had more humans working there a crazed gunman would not have gotten his arsenal up to his room via the service eleavator and then with robots doing room service delieveries no humans to say hey this guy seems a little off. Oh but they will save millions on labor costs. I would not drop one coin in their cascino. And when all the jobs are done by robots who will have a job to go and spend money in Sin City? Rich people don’t gamble they are smarter than that.

      Reply
  9. Jason

    They installed them 3 years ago at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi MS. The cocktail service is absolutely terrible now as a direct result. The servers can’t get their orders made fast enough on busy days. So many angry customers waiting 30 to 45 minutes on drinks and that’s considered fast now. It’ll just become the new norm to wait that long for cocktails…

    Reply
  10. Oblivious Steve

    It is amazing how many people don’t read the article and assume that the average bartender slinging $15 Captain/diets at the casino bar is now being replaced by a machine.

    Reply
  11. Bob

    MGM lost my Buffet business when they put in self serve drink station and replaced servers with bus staff only.

    Reply
  12. Di not dusclose

    Can i suggest.
    The best thing that MGM could do is to eliminate positions like Assy Executive house keeper. Why do we still need this position when there is already director executive housekeeper and supervisors supervisors can report directly to the director. If there are no positions such as assistant ececutive housekeeper they only need 1 ececutive housekeeper. The company will save big amount of moneybecause the company that have these positions are Bellagio, Aria, mgm grand, mandalay bay, circus circus amd there are somany assistant executive housekeepers. There are also companys that gave executive housekeepers that just sit in the office the whole day. Useless just waiting fir their fat paycheck ( excalibur).

    Reply
    1. alex

      Las Vegas hotels are beyond massive. That’s the reason why you need layers of management.

      Also, virtually all hotel upper management positions are desk jobs. The fact that an Executive Housekeeper is in his or her office all day means they are actually working.

      Reply
  13. Wendyll Caisse

    Don’t blame the businesses, blame Restaurant Opportunity Center and their liar and chief Saru Jayaraman, ‘$15/hour and tips on top’ she said. #sarulies

    Reply
    1. Tommie

      Wendyll….That is SUCH a CROCK of BS …. You bought that CORPORATE BLAME GAME BULLSHIT??? They had these plans in place LONG before $15.00 ++per Hr… the only difference is they would have done it if employees were only making $10.00 per Hr … These Corporations only care about Stockholder’s dividends checks and the EXECUTIVE SALARIES…. and BONUSES…Why the EXECUTIVE SALARIES and Bonuses ?? Because the Executive Salaries are now thousands of times what the workers make… This is because EXECUTIVES SALARIES and BOUSES ARE TAX DEDUCTIBLE The BIGGER the SALARY THE BIGGER the DEDUCTION….BTW that is only since Ronald Reagan Signed that into law When Chief Executive Officers only made 10-20 times the lineworker’s paycheck…. FOLLOW THE MONEY… The MONEY NEVER LIES… The REPUBLICANS however DO and THEY’VE CUT the WORKING MAN’S THROATS!!!

      Reply
  14. Dina

    Long gone are the days of happy employees and smiling faces to greet the customer!! These large companies have successfully eliminated “ full-time”
    positions, free parking, and now this! It will be interesting to see how Vegas, a “ service industry “ city transitions without the human services it was built on!! #VEGASSTRONG

    Reply
  15. Timothy McDonald

    I realize this change pertains to Soft Drinks and Cocktails orders on the gaming floor.

    But, how are they going to handle Beer and Wine and Bottled Water orders???

    Draught and Bottles of Beer.

    Lots of people really like Beer.

    Reply
    1. Kyle

      It’s called open up the fridge and the waitress grabs a beer/water to bring to the customer. You don’t need a bartender for that.

      Reply
    2. Scott Roeben Post author

      At this point, no effect. The cocktail waitresses will make the mixed drinks with the machine, but bottled water and bottled beer will just be picked up and delivered the usual way.

      Reply
  16. Bunny1

    Ok so if someone wants a jack and cola
    But more soda than jack can this be done by a machine or if someone wants a dubble
    2 shots jack and soda can that be done?
    Well one, more let’s meet at so and so bar after work I was told they have a great bar tender that makes great drink. One more can this machine cut someone off if they had one to many or do they just get supper drunk. This is not sanitary.

    Reply
  17. Kari

    I am curious how all this technology is going to effect the unemployment rate here in Nevada, or better yet the country. When will anybody put a stop to all of this automation take over. Seriously? Self driving vehicles, atomated banking, online shopping, table side p.o.s. systems. Where and when will we realize that when all these companys cut labor costs by replacing people with machines they are increasing the unemployement rates. Less jobs available for our residents and in return less people spending money they arent earning. Which in the long run means less business for these companies. Doesnt anyone see that technology is going to eventually destroy our country/world or at lest put a huge spin on it.

    Reply
    1. Socialist Steve

      Maybe if we become like China, and limit families to one child, we can decrease the demand for jobs. Less demand means more jobs for all those who are living and breathing. Stop the population growth. Seriously.

      Reply
      1. Michele

        Brian were all expendable !
        I hope you never.get edged out by a machine or someone younger or more experienced.
        good luck

        Reply
    2. Shaun

      It’s a good argument as long as… most people shop in retail stores owned by local entrepreneurs, which they do not. There may be some who make a conscious effort to support local business but I’m guessing that most people here wondering what effect *this* will have on the local economy don’t give one second’s thought to shopping online, buying things made in any other country but their own.

      Reply
  18. EnuffBull

    And if you order a Screwdriver, the robot bartender may think it needs repair & worried it will be replaced by a human. Thus, the circle of (artificial) life.

    Reply
  19. Acorn

    Wait here’s a good question
    If bartenders will be replaced by a machine does that then mean cocktail servers will then earn bartender pay rate since they will be doing that job as well as their own?

    Either way this whole idea is terrible. What it’s going to do to people’s livelihoods is a disgrace!!!

    As long as executives & shareholders pockets get bigger that s all they care about

    Reply
  20. Leelee

    Are these going to be on the casino floor, for those costumers who would like to get the drinks themselves?

    Reply
  21. Wakeupeople

    So sad because this will happen to everyone and every job they can replace with a robot. The cocktail servers will be next. # 45 is so worried about people coming from other countries taking our jobs and our own country is doing the same thing.The people making the most money and not sitting on there behind is the executive get rid of them and there big fat paychecks. !!

    Reply
  22. Zuckwr

    Good. Last time I went there getting a drink was an ordeal. You’d wait in a crowd behind the bar and the bimbos serving drinks would serve the tall guys behind me. Then every 4 minutes they’d play some song and the bartenders would have to get up on the bar and do some kick dance. I waited for about 30 minutes and didn’t get a drink. So I have no problem walking up to a machine and getting a drink.

    Reply
  23. Reecie

    I worked for MGM back in 2008..was in the first cut of management positions….worked for company for 18 yrs. It was devastating…I worked 10 hour shifts sometimes more if needed to make sure housekeeping ran smoothly. It is all about the bottom dollar for them..they don’t care about people and their families. I have not been to one of their properties since. It is a shame that they have no regard for people with real lives and family. If they treated people with respect and acted as if they cared…their employees would be happy to come to work and customer service would improve. A happy employee is better for business. If they go to machines everyone should watch out…they think everyone is replaceable !

    Reply
  24. Bender

    New jobs will be created to replace the ones lost to automation. Someone has to service the Robot Overlords…

    Reply

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