Free drinks are just about as common in Vegas as neon. Walk into any casino and sit down at any table game or slot machine, you’re bound to be offered a free drink. Nobody asks how much you’re betting (or, if you’re even playing that slot machine you’re sitting at). For my adult life, the alcohol has always flown pretty freely in Las Vegas.
Joe Cortez at The Points Guy summarizes a recent article that talks about Las Vegas casinos testing new policies that limit free drinks:
At MGM Grand and Mirage, operated by MGM Resorts International, a similar policy has taken effect. At two different bars in both properties, gamblers are given one complimentary drink when they sit at the bar and begin playing. As they gamble, the machine automatically prints out free drink vouchers, which can be redeemed instantly. According to a statement from MGM Resorts, the new system allows bartenders to determine when a player qualifies for a free drink, instead of making judgement calls based on how long they have been there. Once again, the actual amount of game play required per free drink was not disclosed.
The LA Times article goes into a bit more detail on what Caesars is testing:
For now, the play-to-drink practice applies only to video poker fans at certain bars.
Caesars has installed indicator lights on the rear of video poker machines at sports bars in all nine of its properties on or near the Strip. Guests have to wager a certain amount on each hand for the “green” light to flash. Only then will bartenders serve free booze. Lower bidders have to pay if they want a splash of wine or a cocktail.
A Caesars statement describes the new policy as a “comp validation system.” The company says it enables it “to offer complimentary beverages to those gamers who choose max play at our video poker bar top units.”
The Final Two Pennies
I can’t tell whether I’m surprised by this or not. On one hand, these are public companies. Too many free drinks means less money in the pockets of shareholders. On the other hand, Vegas casinos have been using alcohol to pry money out of patron’s hands for decades.
I don’t drink heavily and gamble rarely when in Vegas. But, I’ve got to think folks are more likely to “get a bit crazy” with their bets if they have a few drinks in them. That’s got to be good for the house. Vegas casinos track everything. They must have some pretty compelling data to be testing changes like this.
Vegas resorts casinos have steadily increased the amount of revenue they receive from dining and shows over the years, becoming less reliant on gambling revenue. But, it’s still a large part of what they do. Taking away free parking is one thing (something MGM Resorts did last year). Reducing free drinks strikes me as a much more aggressive cost-cutting measure.
I’ll be curious to see what Vegas/Atlantic City guru Baccarat Guy thinks of this.
A big thanks to Le Chic Geek for supplying our featured image!
The post Are Free Drinks Coming To An End at Casinos In Las Vegas? was published first on Pizza in Motion