To tip or not to tip shouldn’t be the question. How much to tip is the proper question, at least according to any service person working in America. Knowing how to tip at a casino can make your visit more enjoyable.
Only retail casinos in Massachusetts are allowed.
Although, now that lawmakers passed a MA sports betting bill, which includes online betting, perhaps legal online casino gaming won’t be off the table for too much longer.
The casino tipping world can be confusing. MA residents heading out for a night of live gaming at MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor or Plainridge Park Casino should prepare to tip valets, servers, cashiers, slot attendants and dealers. Tipping, however, is not technically required.
Most dealers pool ‘tokes’
Most casino dealers get paid minimum wage or close to it, with the expectation that tips will make up the bulk of their earnings. Factoring in tips, though, dealers can make a pretty nice living.
While tipping isn’t mandatory and remains the discretion of each player, it is expected, especially for big winners. There’s an unwritten rule: Better tips bring better service.
Encore Boston Harbor has the most dealers, with more than 185 table games. MGM Springfield has the second most with 120 table games. Plainridge Park Casino has electronic table games, which do not have live dealers.
Encore Boston Harbor also features a 24-table poker room, and MGM Springfield has a 14-table poker room.
In dealer talk, tips are called tokes. The amount dealers get from the pool is called a toke rate.
It’s also important to note that at most casinos, dealers are required to pool their tips. Pooling is when dealers combine all their tips, then split the amount evenly throughout a shift, a gaming day or even a week. Poker dealers are sometimes exempt from pooling tips. It varies by casino.
But even though the amount you tip might not go directly into the dealer’s pocket, it still supports the crew.
How much should you tip?
Tipping a blackjack dealer isn’t as straightforward as tipping wait staff at a restaurant. For one thing, players can tip a blackjack dealer in two ways. They can give them money or place a bet on the dealer’s behalf.
Some industry experts suggest simply asking the dealer their preference. For those wishing to simply tip money, there’s no set range. Some suggest making sure to tip the dealer a certain amount per hour. Others suggest going off what you’re betting. For bets of $5 or $10, a few bucks is fine. A $5 tip works for bets of $20 to $30, and so on.
For those wishing to tip off winnings, consider tipping 2% to 5%.
At the blackjack table, best tips are chips
At the blackjack table, tipping cash is OK, but most tip in chips. The dealer will convert the cash to chips anyway. When you tip a dealer in bets, make sure to put the chip for the dealer outside your playing circle. You might even make it clear before the hand to the dealer that “I’m playing for you” with the tipped bet.
If it’s a winner, the dealer doubles their tip. If it’s not, they get nothing. At most casinos, dealers will place their tips through a slot next to the table that drops into a lockbox after the hand.
Before leaving a table, don’t forget to color up. That means cashing in smaller-amount chips for larger ones. That makes it easier for the dealer to keep “change.” Also, it allows you to cart around less chips.
After that, you might tip whatever excess smaller chips you have before leaving, or maybe a larger amount, especially if you won.
Should I also tip on a hand pay jackpot?
One casino scenario that might feel less obvious in terms of tipping: hand pay jackpots.
Winners who score a win worth more than what the machine can pay out at once, usually $1,200 in the US, will receive their money from an attendant who also verifies the amount and process. Depending on the amount, multiple attendants may arrive to deliver the winnings and take care of any taxes paperwork.
First, know that if multiple people help complete the transaction, it’s OK to hand just one tip to one person and have them split it. It’s also important to note that like any tipping situation, there’s no set amount to tip. The typical range these days is between 0.5% and 1%. For reference, that’s a $5 or $10 tip for a $1,000 jackpot.
Another thing to keep on mind: Attendants likely will pay with larger bills. Savvy players will want to come prepared with change for tipping situations like that by having $5 and $10 bills on hand.
Wait: What about the cashiers?
Tipping rules for the cashiers at “the cage” when cashing in chips after a visit vary more widely. Some say this is one place they do not tip at a casino. Others say a few dollars, the odd change or even a small chip goes a long way, especially for returning customers.
To tip or not to tip
Tipping in the US remains a contested subject. Some say the practice came from the European caste system during the Middle Ages. Others point to post-Civil War employers using the practice to exploit formerly enslaved people by paying them little to nothing in hourly wages.
That said, it’s important to remember that withholding tips only hurts the people making low wages at a casino. Knowing how to tip at a casino can make your visit more enjoyable, for them and for you.