Tips for Better Tips
by Vic Taucer
Tips for Better Tips
The real truth behind working for tokes in table games
Vic Taucer is president of Casino Creations, a Las Vegas-based educational, training and consulting company, which specializes in table game evaluations, customer service training, dealer training and managerial training for table games operations. A former professor of casino management for the University & Community College System of Nevada and a long-time casino manager at many resorts, Taucer can be reached at (702) 595-7800 or firstname.lastname@example.org
I came across a story recently that fits with where I wanted to go with a future article. The story was from the Chicago Sun Times written by a gaming columnist. Here is what the author said:
Make tipping dealers part of your table game.
The practice of tipping casino table games dealers usually evokes strong feelings one way or another among gamblers. Some players never tip, others will occasionally and there are some who over-tip to the point of damaging their bottom line. The happy medium is making the dealer happy by expressing your appreciation for a job well done without going overboard.
Even though casinos offer dealers competitive benefits packages, itâ€™s no secret the hourly wage hovers around the minimum. Dealers rely heavily on tips to beef up their weekly take-home pay. Some people resent this, arguing that casino operators have a lot of nerve placing that financial burden upon the backs of players in light of the huge profits their businesses generate each month. The reality is that dealers are, in a sense, part of the entertainment and dining worldâ€™s service industry, which groups them with servers in restaurants who also make minimum wage and depend on the gratuities they receive from customers.
This article stressed a recurring fact of life for most dealers in our casinos, both Indian and commercial. The fact is that hourly tip rates for our dealers are on a downward trend and in most cases are falling below a living wage. A common question being asked by most dealers nationwide is â€œwhere are all the good tippers?â€�
The tip process
Most dealers work for an hourly minimum wage. Even in our largest casino- resorts, the wage paid by the casino is generally the federally mandated minimum. The majority of dealerâ€™s wages are derived from tips, or â€œtokes.â€� Most dealers pool their tips on a daily basis, then distribute them to each worker in the form of a paycheck.
Some dealersâ€”a number of them in California casinosâ€”are allowed to keep their own tips and do not have to pool their tips with others. This type of tip distribution was common in the early years of Nevada gaming, but over the years has been basically discontinued (to the dismay of a great number of dealers).
Nationwide hourly tip rates for dealers averages anywhere from $5 to $30 per hourâ€”the majority of which are closer to the lower figure. A low tip rate combined with a low hourly wage paid by the casino equals a job that is not very attractive.
Therefore, a great number of casinos are coming to a realization that to draw a better quality worker or to even retain their dealing staff some changes have to occur.
One of two things has to happen:
â€”Casinos may have to pay their dealers an hourly salary much greater than minimum wage; or
â€”Players have to start tipping more to get the dealers wage up to a more livable figure.
Situation one is not going to happen. Table games are the stepchild of todayâ€™s gaming industry. Most operators are looking to downsize and cut this department in lieu of increasing overhead cost in an already payroll-heavy area. Most operators are convinced that any additional pay to dealers would diminish an already slim profit margin area.
Situation two is the one we as an industry must be concerned with finding answers for. We need the players to tip more to get the dealers wage up to an amount that is an attractive figure in todayâ€™s highly competitive labor market.
How do we do this? Ask the player to tip more? Iâ€™d love to see that one! I can imagine a casino manager saying, â€œHey player, you need to tip the dealer more because we canâ€™t afford to pay them.â€� That would go over well donâ€™t you think?
Training for tips
The answer is to train the dealer in how to work for tips. In todayâ€™s casino world it is a necessity. Our dealers are starving not for lack of players, but because for the most part these dealers do not have a clue on how to make money off tips in a casino game.
How to work for tips is a trainable skill. It is important for dealers to understand certain truths about tips and tip earning first.
Tips are not an entitlementâ€”Most dealers think that a tip is something that they are entitled to. Dealers think that if they offer the basics of customer service and exhibit the required competence necessary than a tip is part of the program. This is false. Where does it say the player has to tip? The players owe you nothing. Tipping is a personal thing between the dealer and the player.
The idea that tips shouldonly be expected when the player is winning is false â€”I have news for you dealers. The player winning and tipping have no correlation. Granted that if the player is winning he has more money available for tipping, why does he have to tip you if he is winning? If you as a dealer think that the only way to make tips is if the player wins, you are wrong.
Tips are a personal thingâ€”You know when we are addressing some concepts we may say â€œitâ€™s not a personal issue but business.â€� When it comes to making tips in a casino game, itâ€™s all personal. You as a dealer have to get the players to know and like you for them to tip you. Itâ€™s as simple as that. In working for tips as a dealer, it is all a personal issue. The player has to recognize you as a human being first and then he has to develop a personal relationship.
Tip earning is a hustle business. Just like any sales effort, the salesman has to hustle to sell the product. The salesman has to get the client to like the product to get them to buy the product. As a dealer you need to sell the product. The product is you.