Why Is It a Question?
There is really no reason that tipping casino staff should be the hot button issue that people make it out to be. The question of whether or not a casino patron should tip ultimately comes down to either personal preference or the reason that the individual is in the casino in the first place.
Should Advantage Players Feel Compelled to Tip?
In my opinion, there is no reason for an AP to feel compelled to tip anything to either dealers or slot attendants. To the extent that Advantage Players are in the casino to extract money from the establishment by way of making plays with positive Expected Value/Expected Return, it seems perfectly sensible that an Advantage Player would not feel compelled to tip given that such EV/ER is decreased as a result of so doing. With that said, there are some Advantage Players that are of the notion that it is a worthwhile decision to tip as much, if not more, than other recreational players. The reason for that is simply to generate goodwill with the staff of the casino in the hopes that they will not pay as much attention to the action of the Advantage Player in question. Also, non-tippers tend to stand out as, "Stiffs," and most AP's want to generate as little notoriety as possible. Ultimately, I think the question of tipping for an AP comes down to actual cost in EV/ER as a result of the tipping combined with the perceived benefits of tipping. That's the case regardless of whether those benefits are personal or AP related. With that said, let's move on to the question of recreational players.
Should Recreational Players Tip?
In the case of recreational players, the impact of EV/ER of tipping could be a consideration, to wit, when playing a negative expectation game, if one knows that one is going to tip, then that effectively cuts into the EV/ER of the game in question. Furthermore, many recreational players are of the impression that the dealer or handpay people are not necessarily providing any service over-and-above what is required of the job duties for which they are compensated by the casino. Asa result, such people might maintain that it is incumbent upon the casino, rather than the player,to tip such that dealers reach a livable wage, or whatever wage the player in question believes that the dealers should be entitled. At the same time, I find it very difficult to reach any position that the players who do tip are being foolish for so doing. The service that a player receives from casino staff, in terms of quality, is completely intangible and subjective to the extent that a player forms his/her own opinion of the service rendered. Interestingly, much of the conversation of tipping is focused on the dealers who, in my opinion, are providing a service such that one dealer can make playing a more enjoyable or less enjoyable experience for the player as compared to another dealer or dealers. Handpay people are often not mentioned when it comes to tipping, which I find interesting because, those are the people who I believe really cannot provide a service that is significantly better or worse than any other handpay person. While I do tip the handpay people, I'm not quite sure why. Their job is to fill out the paperwork, get the appropriate amount of cash, and count said cash out to the player. That's it. Obviously, hitting a jackpot is an enjoyable experience in and of itself, yet I fail to see how the handpay person can enhance that experience.
The Cost of Making Up Wages
Tipping casino staff is often compared to tipping restaurant servers and bartenders, and those who argue against tipping casino staff generally maintain that the service provided by restaurant employees goes much farther in making the experience a more enjoyable one or a less enjoyable one. They also maintain that restaurant employees are often paid sub minimum wage that must be made up for with tips. However, food and drink service employees are far from the only ones that rely on tips as a substantial portion of their compensation. For instance, hair stylists are usually guaranteed a sub-minimum wage hourly wage, oralternatively, a split of their business with the salon and the salon being incumbent to bring them up to minimumwage if the tips do not push them over minimum wage. Another industry that really depends on tips is the taxi industry. In that industry, drivers often pay a flat fee to lease the vehicle from the cab service for a day, and then after that, fares are split between the driver and the cab service. Thus, when we talk about the casino paying a livable wage to dealers, (whatever that means) we have to look at the impact that this would have if other industries were to do the same thing: In the case of all of the other businesses, in the event that they had to pay the average hourly amount that an employee or contractor makes given that some customers tip, the inevitable result would be that the prices would have to increase in order to make up the difference. To wit, businesses are not going to exponentially increase what their employees are compensated without making up for it on the price end. With the casino industry, it's a little different because there is not necessarily a tangible product-servicebeing provided. The result is that the difference would have to be made up with worse rules on the machinesor table games that would enable the casino to achieve a greater house edge. Again, the casino is not goingto accept that wages are exponentially increased without getting that back some other way. An alternative to changes to the house edge, of course, could be fewer comps which would adversely impact all players.
In conclusion, I think that whether or not one should tip is a personal choice and nobody should be disparaged for either tipping or refusing to tip. However, it should be recognized by one and all that the tippers are contributing to the effective wages of the employees, and therefore, are keeping the costs directly paid by the businesses (i.e. casinos) down. With that said, whatever their motivations or reasons, I don't think non-tippers are necessarily doing anything wrong. Even in the case of restaurants, tipping is always an option and is not required to get the meal,though there are exceptions for a few restaurants that add a gratuity automatically or for parties of a certain size. However, ultimately, I think that the non-tippers, rather than disparage tippers, should be damn grateful for them...the tippers are keeping the prices down for them.