Fewer Free Drinks In Las Vegas Not Just Your Imagination

According the the Associated Press, Las Vegas resorts comped $310.7 million in free drinks in 2009, a 2% drop from 2008. The resorts note that they sell more liquor when they give less away, and that no doubt is true. But at what cost? The entire idea about comping drinks is the keep the players PLAYING (and keep them lubricated up enough to keep playing). If you are on a losing streak and you have to go hunt down your own drink, aren’t you more likely just to leave the table (or machine)? Especially with machines where you can’t have a dealer watch your chips while you are gone.

This is unfortunately further evidence that some of people running the resorts have no clue about Las Vegas or the culture that made it famous (and made piles of cash from happy visitors). They get tighter with the free booze, then wonder why gaming wins are down? DUH. Sure… right now they are blaming it on the economy. But when the economy bounces back and gaming wins stagnate, maybe they’ll actually get back to taking care of the players.

I think it should be mandatory for ALL resort upper management to go on an “every-man” bender: 24 hours on the Las Vegas Strip drinking, eating, and gambling with no VIP status or access and their own money at stake. They would learn volumes. Instead, they are too busy cleaning their pocket protectors and doing calculus for amusement and often seem to have no clue what you guys — the real Las Vegas visitors — want and enjoy.

At the very least, reading our http://ask.accessvegas.com blog should be mandatory for resort management on every level. We print the stuff you guys are emailing us — the stuff you really care about. I am amazed (perhaps shocked is a better word) about how out-of-touch some of the resort decision makers are with you guys. And we aim to correct that. One letter and one comment at a time. Feel free to make your voice heard by commenting below:

Ted Newkirk
Founder/Managing Editor
Access Vegas

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41 thoughts on “Fewer Free Drinks In Las Vegas Not Just Your Imagination”

  1. if they ever quit giving free drinks or cut down on free drinks i won’t come to las vegas anymore. i have been going to las vegas since 1982 but now i can play the same games at minnesota or wisconsin indian casinos without having to pay big bucks to fly to las vegas. remember what made vegas sucessful free or cheap rooms free or cheap food and free drinks.

  2. Been to Vegas dozens of times since 1973 and belive it is a big mistake to cut back on drinks for gamblers. If i have to leave to get a drink i won’t be back as there are a lot of things to do with out gambling all the time. I am saying this even though the only drink i ever order is a bottle of water and that is my 2 cents worth.

  3. LAS VEGAS USE TO BE FUN, AND YOU FELT THAT CASINO’S WEREN’T ALWAY REACHING INTO YOUR POCKET, WE HAVE BEEN COMMING TO VEGAS SINCE 1986 BUT THIS CAN CHANGE OUR MIND.

  4. cocktail waitresses are especially scarce between 6am and noon. we AM gamblers might not be interested in alcohol, but we certainly like our o.j. and coffee.

  5. If I want to pay for drinks I can go to Michigan, West Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, or Indiana and on occasion I have. But if I want to have a really good time I go to Vegas. Why ? FREE DRINKS and better atmosphere. Vegas was built on free drinks, reasonable hotel rates, and gambling. Little by little the BIG GUYS are taking all that stuff away from the gambler. If High Rollers is what Vegas wants then I say let them have ’em. Let the low rollers leave and let’s see what happens if it already hasn’t started.

  6. My friends and I have been coming to Vegas for the past 15 years. Part of the fun is sitting at a table, playing blackjack, and having some cocktails. This past visit (3/10) we all noticed that the waitresses were far and few between. Sure hope this trend doesn’t continue, as it will definately decrease my playing time at the tables/slots.

  7. I was just in Vegas and noticed this myself… there were barely any cocktail waitresses walking around. What a joke- peoople are sitting there dropping $$ at slots and tables and can’t even get a free drink or water anymore. I am w/ Dave J.- cost of flight from Boston is pricey- I can just take a short 1 and 1/2 hr ride to Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun.

  8. Theoretically the drinks are not free…remember we have to tip the waitresses. Ok they work out cheap! Anyway…how much do they cost the casino once you remove the ice? And…How many cups of coffee can you make out of a jar/packet of coffee?

  9. If Vegas Continues to cut back they can say bye bye to the east coast peole flying there.

  10. If they stop the free drinks, we don’t need to come to Vegas. Living in Michigan, we have 3 casino’s downtown – no free drinks – and many more Indian casinos around the state – no free drinks. This is what makes Vegas so unique. I wish it was like it was years ago, when you felt you were getting a good deal with food and drinks in Vegas.

  11. I usually get to Vegas twice a year and even though I know I am paying through the nose (or should I say, through the slots) for my drinks, I will continue to play at a losing machine while waiting for my “free drink”. If they are no longer offered, I will surely move along to the next casino. One of our local casinos in Minnesota even offered free drinks during play in the winter months. Why should we bother coming to Vegas any more.

  12. I would stop going to Vegas too. The drinks are so expensive at the bar. If they quit serving free drinks I would go to Atlantic City.

  13. I NEVER gamble at the Indian Casino’s and there’s at least 6 within driving distance from my house! Don’t forget, they’re not regulated by a gaming commission like the casino’s in Vegas are, so your odds of winning (on a machine anyway) can be significantly lower with no repercussion to the casino! Free drinks are a benefit, not a requirement! If it wasn’t for Benny Binion, there wouldn’t BE free drinks! 🙂 I’ll always be Vegas faithful, drinks or not!

  14. I don’t think it costs a casino that much to provide alcoholic beverages. I agree w/you, Ted, why should we leave the machines to go get our own drink? Of course, people should ALWAYS definitely tip the cocktail waitresses for their service!

  15. The drinks while playing is part and parcel with the entire experience-part of the fun. Bantering with the waitress is fun too.Skimping on comp drinks is another reason to avoid the strip and play downtown or Laughlin

  16. The “cost” of Vegas has been getting out of control for a while now…lots of people I know who used to “love” Vegas, now will pass. For me, I love the weather and the glitzy hotels. I like the free drinks while gambling and if they take that away, there is not much left. $12-15 for a cocktail, $50 for lunch, $3-4 for a bottle of water, $6 for coffee, $100+ to see a show?, etc. I mean, c’mon! People still have budgets when they’re on vacation and the more they have to spend on things, the less they have to gamble with. I think the management is shooting themselves in the foot with all this..first bogus resort fees and now no free drinks either??!! Even a large empire can fall..More and more people are going to do cruises and all inclusives and say “see ya” to Vegas..

  17. My wife , daughter and myself stayed at The Flamingo this past March. When we played at Flamingo we had no trouble getting drinks on the gameing floor. True our stay was a mid-week and we played later in the evening; but still we got all the free drinks we wanted. But when my grandson stayed at The flamingo a month before; he had trouble getting a drink. I can’t say for sure. I do know that when we ordered our drinks I tipped the server and I got good service.

  18. I enjoy having drinks while playing the slots and if I have to go to the bar and pay for the drinks the fun of it all takes a nose dive. It’s bad enough that I am so stupid to consume free drinks while gambling but when I have to start paying for the drinks then I will be a little smarter. The casinos will find out over time that stopping the free drinks will ultimately be their loss and my gain. They won’t have to buy the drinks I would have consumed but they won’t be getting the money from the extra gambling I normally do when having drinks. I know the amount of money I lose gambling is much greater than the casinos actual cost of the drinks.

  19. We have been going to Vegas twice a year since 1992. I think you should still give the players free drinks. That way we will keep playing the machines and tables and the casinos win. If you stop the free drinks the casinos loose and there will be less and less players

  20. Please tell me it’s not true. My wife, friends, and I have just started going to Vegas. Three times in the last three years. Going twice this year. You already can’t get cheap food like I was told for many years before. Neon is disapearing like crazy. Not a comp to be found. Please don’t take the only we have left away.

  21. We were there in March with a decent amount of our time downtown (probably my favorite overall area). I honestly didn’t notice a shortage. I hope that remains the same. I love DT!

  22. Vegas is free drinks, cheap rooms, cheap eating. Take away the free drinks and beautiful cocktail waitresses, add a “resort fee” and you’ve taken away 67% of the reasons to go. I’ve been going twice a year for 25 years. Give us a good reason to stay sober while gambling: maybe we will start winning!

  23. have been goig to vegas twice a year now for 21 years,was there in april and coming back in october had to pay the extra room tax did not like it, if they get rid of drinks that would end it we can play in PA.

  24. We were at Flamingo in May waiting for our college kids to get ready and decided to get free drinks at the bar and play poker there. They gave us one free drink and told us there was a $1.25 minimum after that. If we wanted more free drinks, we had to up our bet to $1.25 per hand. I had never heard of anything so ridiculous. We only sat there because we couldn’t find a server anywhere in the casino.

  25. One more reason for me to stop coming to Vegas. I think the resort fees are awful…and now, the possibility of no more free drinks. Flights are crazy expensive from the east, so I have already cut back to only coming to Vegas once a year and not at all last year. Take away free drinks and I will cut back to 0. Its the only thing left that Vegas is doing for the player. I do want to say, had great cocktail service from the Palazzo in late March/early April 2010. Not so much in other casinos.

  26. Free drinks are a perk that all enjoy. One of the reasons we go to Las Vegas is to experience a little of the feeling of being “a whale”. If free drinks stop so will visits to “sin city”.
    We always tip the server $1.00/drink.

  27. What’s next – no smoking? I have left several winning tables and slots whenever I could not get a drink. I go to Vegas 3 times a year and fully admit that drinking and gambling go together – I hate to spend half my time looking around for a waitress when I am trying to play. Yep – give us free (with a nice tip) drinks or we will get bored and go shopping. Um, mini bottles fit in your purse quit nicely – please don’t make us do it!!

  28. I try to visit 2 x’s a year and we fly in from Upstate NY which is expensive and if they keep offering less for more i’ll just stay close to home where i can have just the same for less. Baggage fees, resort fees, rising food tabs, drink prices now we’re being nickel an’ dimed at first we were a guest now i’m a customer.

  29. Since first coming to LV in 1990 I have noticed a steady decline in cocktail waitresses but this last two years they have become an endangered species.
    Without lubrication I don’t play as much (alcohol loosens the pocket zip)and end up people watching with a supermarket bought sixpack ’til I feel in a reckless mindset to gamble again.
    It is about time the big bosses came out of their lofty towers and remembered the little guys who built LV and live in the real world for a change. Or it will be renamed Sad Vegas.

  30. Have been going to Vegas for over 30 years. Everything has changed so much and in my opinion – not for the good. Years ago there were so many different casinos instead of just these mega resorts that they have now. It was great to see all the different places. Now it takes all day to go through one casino. You’re fenced in like cattle when you walk down the street. Have no desire to go back at all.

  31. LISTEN UP PEOPLE…………….
    WE HAVE BEEN GOING TO CASINOS FOR 20 YEARS. IT USED TO BE FUN AND AT LEAST WE WOULD WIN ONCE IN A WHILE, WHETHER IT BE A ROYAL FLUSH, 4 DUECES,(NOT MANY AROUND NOW), OR SLOT JACKPOTS.
    THESE DAYS ARE GONE AND HAVE BEEN
    FOR SOME TIME. MAYBE SOME DAY THAT WILL ALL COME BACK.
    WHAT THEY HAVE DONE IS GO TO THE TICKET CASH OUTS (WHICH I LIKE), BUT AT THE SAME TIME HAVE DESIGNED THE SLOTS AND POKER MACHINES INTO MULTIPLE GAME MACHINES AND REPROGRAMMED THE PAYOUT FEATURES,LIKE THE AMOUNTS AND FREQUENCY OF PLAYER WINS. IN ADDITON, THEY HAVE ADDED ALL SORTS OF SCREWY MACHINES WITH ALL KINDS OF SYMBOLS.
    THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE CASINOS ARE BEING RUN BY THE MBAs (MASTERS OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION)PEOPLE.
    THE FUN DAYS ARE OVER!!!!!!! COMPARE YOUR WINS NOW TO YOUR WINS 10 – 15 YEARS AGO………..

  32. They tighten up the slots, changed the blackjack payout, giving less drinks, food cost more,all they have to do now is not give free rooms and then they can broad up the place. A big percent of the people going to Vegas are SENIORS and they like free stuff.

  33. I try to get to Vegas twice a year, last 2 times were downtown, no problem getting drinks, and even won once and a while, if the strip wants only the “whales”, then I am happy downtown

  34. I was just there last week and noticed that I couldn’t find a cocktail waitress easily and when you did it would sometimes take 10 minutes for her to come back with your drink. I ended up going to a liquor store down the street to buy a bottle. That ate in to what I was going to spend in the machines.

    The machines also seemed a little tighter and meals a little more expensive. While I enjoyed my trip it did take more money than it did 2 years ago.

  35. I totally agree…I bring my hard earned $$$ to play and expect the service. I will leave a casino if a waitress doesn’t come around within a reasonable time frame..I don’t just move..I LEAVE the casino..so no sitting in your restaurant..no paying premiums prices for drinks in the lounge,, no staying for that Show..no wandering around,,shopping so you are LOSING money by not providing the free drinks on a constant basis!!

  36. I have gone to Las Vegas 32 out of the last 33 years! So, I have certainly seen a lot of changes. I enjoy playing the slots and drinking beer. A lot of the casino’s any more the cocktail waitress will walk quite a ways from the slow players and while they say ‘cocktails’ they walk by so fast that you dont have a chance to order. So I usually go to another casino. Indian casino’s in my area have FREE soft drinks that you just help yourself. If I have to leave my machine to go get myself a drink I usually just go to another casino to start with.

  37. I expect the complimentary drinks when I am gambling. I believe that Harrah’s Corporation is trying to phase this practice out. I was in Bally’s, Atlantic City, and on the day I arrived, I gambled $400 in about 20 minutes, and and asked for a drink, and was told that I had to pay. I enjoyed the pool at Bally’s and walked the Boardwalk, but really curtailed my gambling. I have an upcoming reservation at a Harrah’s property in Vegas, but I am going to look at another place to gamble, in case they are planning to start this policy there.

  38. I expect a few things when I go to Vegas;
    1) to usually leave a lot of money there
    2) to be pampered and catered to while there
    3) free drinks

    If I have to put up with the pain of ever increasingly TIGHT slot machines, you better be courteous enough to at least give me a free drink.

  39. I have been to Vegas many times when it was fun, I am from the East Coast, New York to be exact, it sounds to me that now Vegas has become very boring, I was going to go with my wife in December, but from what I heard, I will think I will pass, no free drinks, nickle and diming guest. Hey Mayor hey CEO’s, wake up, don’t destroy this thing you had, re-invent, you are pissing off people, once pissed won’t come back. Good Luck!

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