Local News


Strip casinos cutting costs by limiting comped drinks

Posted at 11:34 PM, Jul 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-29 02:48:54-04
Casino giants are finding new ways to cut costs and save money. The new tactics affect you, the consumer.
13 Action News first told you about MGM International Properties decreasing their shot pours. Now, we're learning about some new ways the casinos are trying to limit those comped drinks everyone looks forward to while sitting at the slot and poker machines.
Sitting at a slot machine or video poker machine, putting in a $10 bill or a $20 bill, slowly hitting the button, and waiting for the cocktail waitress to come around to take your order for your free drink - may soon be a ritual of the past.
"It's kind of what Vegas is known for," said the founder of vitalvegas.com, Scott Roeben. "They've gotten all the low-hanging fruit; now I think they are looking at the things that can have a huge financial impact," he said.
Roeben says the point is for the casino giants to save money.
"Casinos are being very aggressive about it," said Roeben. "The casinos are taking the discretion out of the hands of the bartenders to give comped drinks."
One way is with a red light, green light system. Pictures taken by Roeben at the Caesars sports book show three lights attached to the video poker machines. One light is red, one light is green, one light is blue. Once money is put in the machine, the light turns blue. Once you spend enough, or lose enough, a green light comes on, signaling to the bartender, you are ready for a comped drink. The red light flashes back on until you put more money in.
"You gotta pace yourself, and you've got be willing to invest a little to get that free drink," said Roeben.
Roeben says a slot voucher system is in place at the Mirage Lobby Bar. By that, he means, video poker machines print out vouchers that say 'You've earned a free drink' after you've spent enough.
"The machine decides if you're worthy of your comped drink!" said Roeben.
Roeben said this is going on at the Cosmopolitan too. He adds it's only a matter of time before an automated comped drink monitoring system is in place at every bar on the strip.
We reached out to the casinos for comment. The Cosmopolitan said they have various systems in place but wouldn't say more than that. 
Caesars never got us a statement before show time.
MGM International Properties provided us with the statement below.
"We are pilot-testing a new slot machine feature at the Lobby Bar, which provides vouchers for drinks based on the time and length of slot play.  The new technology has eliminated the guessing game for bartenders about how many drinks each guest is eligible to receive based on play.  Further, it has made the number of comped drinks that players receive consistent for all slot players at the bar.”