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Free casino drinks on the way out?

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CasinoGamblingWeb.com notes the following in a recent article:

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“Wynn Las Vegas Hotel and Casino is flouting venerable Las Vegas tradition by no longer comping drinks for bar customers who are playing machines. Vegas casinos have long honored the practice of giving a free drink in exchange for ten dollars play at the video gambling machines inset into the bars, but Wynn will now charge full price for cocktails, regardless of play.” – source: CasinoGamblingWeb.com

If this is true, it’s a terrible, terrible sign of possible things to come. If Wynn gets away with it, other casino groups will surely follow. The end of Vegas is nigh.

One of the staple “freebies” in most (but not all) casinos is the free drink. In the US it tends to be alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. In London (and elsewhere in the world) it tends to be non-alcoholic only (although Ladbrokes Paddington Casino does comp wine – well, I’ve had a lot of free wine there in the past…).

A free drink serves many purposes. 1) It helps get players into the casino, with the lure of “something for nothing”. 2) It helps players to keep refreshed and comfortable in the casino, so they tend to stay for longer. 3) It builds goodwill – “I lost $500 but at least I got a free drink…”.

Surely then, eliminating free drinks can only be suicidal for a casino – or have I missed the point here? Just because they’re giving you a “$5 dollar” drink doesn’t mean it costs them that to produce – the true cost is probably closer to 50c. So why would a casino turn down the chance to get a shot at a nice wallet of cash, to save 50c? That’s nuts. Heck, maybe I should become a casino operator! 🙂

That’s not to say however that Steve Wynn is nuts. I actually respect this guy. He’s got a beautiful casino (Wynn) in Vegas (and also in Macau), he’s made Vegas what it is today, and, for the record, I was treated VERY WELL at Wynn when I played there.

Anyway, my advice is this: Vote with your feet. Regardless of where you live in the world, if your local casino does not offer free amenities / drinks of any kind, DON’T PLAY THERE. Complain via email or letter also to let the casino know WHY you’ve stopped playing. And maybe they’ll rethink the policy. Certainly this worked in little New Zealand – our local casino stopped giving out free drinks (always soft drinks only in any case), and people voted by staying away. Now there’s a free drinks trolley available most of the time for players club members. So this kind of “player input” can work.


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