Is the Era of Free Booze in Vegas Coming to an End?

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Vegas Play Validation for Free Drinks

Vegas Play Validation for Free Drinks

Ah Vegas. One of the only places in the world where you can drink for “free” if you work the system. Ok, that probably isn’t true for most of you since airport and hotel lounges also have free booze, but you get the point. Anyway, for a long time Vegas has offered free drinks on sort of an honor system. If you appear to be gambling or even gamble small sums of money, then the drinks are free flowing.

Unfortunately that may be changing soon. I have heard rumblings that this was going to happen for awhile and now it seems that Caesar’s Entertainment has finally implemented a minimum play system to unlock free drinks at their bars. Here is how it works according to KTNV:

You put in $20 to the video poker machine to get it activated. A blue light will turn on. If you play a few max bets, your light will turn green. If you keep up your playing pace, the drinks will keep coming. If you stop or slow down, the light will turn red and the drinks will stop.

Here is the company’s official statement:

Caesars Entertainment has implemented the comp validation system statewide throughout our Nevada resorts. This system enables us to offer complimentary beverages to those gamers who choose max play at our video poker bar top units.

Sure, bars only for now, but it is just a matter of time before play limits are implemented on the casino floor in my opinion. I also don’t believe this will be limited to only Caesar’s properties. MGM Resorts has been reportedly testing out similar programs for awhile now. Player card technology allows them to easily track these things and I’m guessing these restrictions will become better implemented and refined over time.


While this is not the end of the world by any means, it is just another step away from the days when Vegas presented some value to consumers. Gone are the days of free parking at many casinos and now play validation will be implemented to limit the free drinks. On one hand I understand given that these are businesses and the drinks are for gamblers, but on the other hand it feels like this all might go too far in the end.

As someone who doesn’t really gamble this doesn’t have a huge effect on me, but I thought I would ask what you guys think. Do you think this is a smart move by Caesar’s or are they going a bit too far this time?

Shawn Coomer
Since 2007 Shawn Coomer has been circling the globe with his family for pennies on the dollar. He uses that first-hand knowledge and experience to teach others how to achieve their travel dreams for the least amount of money possible.

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  1. Hidden $30 resort fees, pay to park, 6:5 blackjack, and what looks to be the beginning of the end of free drinks. I’m seeing fewer and fewer reasons to visit any more.

  2. I doubt it will be well implemented – it will come down to the servers who want tips. I usually play 2 hands of black jack and my buddy will just stand behind me and watch a lot of the time and they give him free drinks when I order them. I don’t think it will go full blown. I can see the bar top area getting it since people just camp there without playing and put $1 in when they want a drink.

    • oh yea. wanted to also comment that this really isnt a big deal for a few reasons:

      1) only impacts you if you care and gamble. i do, but many stay away so doesnt matter

      2) frequency of drinks and the quality and quantity (small ass size) is always pathetic. nothing to be amazed about. you guys know that shit is total ninja right? if you visit vegas enough you know. get to know the cocktail hotties and bartenders and they will tell you all the “FREE” alcohol is cost controlled. its never the real crap. total Chinese replacement parts. its not illegal either. its legit. meaning you dont know what your drinking. NASTY butt alcohol made in another country by slaves for cheap. doesnt even matter if you say “I want PATRON…”. They give you FATRON.. but you know whats illegal? if you go straight to a bar and ask for a drink and you actually pay for it and you watch them pour and the label doesnt match whats inside, then thats a lawsuit you will win. otherwise, good luck. So why limit fake drinks? because they still cost money when people milk it and exploit it…

      3) you tip your waitress right? thats not free alcohol then…

      4) i buy real drinks at the bar and bring it. yes its like $50 but cmon, vegas is meant to be enjoyed.

      5) Bankrupt Caesar’s Entertainment? anyways… (except if youre elite status which is actually nice… haha)

        • They don’t have good enough spreads to do that…the food in there is usually poor. I have had much better food/service in Ohio. They also need better hours for the lounges imo.

  3. I think they’ll implement it on the casino floor, as I can see a cost savings. It’s harder now to get that free drink than it used to be. Less staff taking even longer to bring your drink, as Mike noted. Add in having to play max bet, which many don’t do, should add to the bottom line. But will that translate to more folks buying alcohol? I’d rather use my money to gamble. And what of the wait staff who will likely make less in tips. How soon before they start complaining?

  4. I often order a drink while playing the slots, and then play while waiting for it to be delivered. I’ve had some really expensive “free” drinks in Reno. 🙁

    • That’s absolutely true. If I’m playing and NOT waiting for a drink and I start to do poorly on the machine, I get up and walk away. If I’m playing and waiting for a drink and I start doing poorly, I’m most likely going to keep playing until at least that drink comes, which can sometimes take 15-20 minutes in the bigger casinos.

  5. My view is Caesars Entertainment is testing the waters, just as MGM Resorts has done with parking. The technology to track play and reward players (with alcohol) can be easily ported to all slot machines, it’s simply a matter of incorporating the requirement into new and existing slots. If it makes sense to the accountants, you can bet it will be implemented.

  6. There’s a reason they went bankrupt and no one else did. This will backfire, as Kent C said, alcohol = poor decisions (sometimes!) and I think they’ll reverse it.

    • Depends on the time of the year….they are stingy around March madness but will give me 10 free drink tickets for $50 in baseball bets.

  7. I wouldn’t be surprised if they introduce this onto the casino floors as well. Not many casinos are making revenue from gambling nowadays, it’s mainly coming from entertainment (ex. nightclubs) and dining. Considering most properties in Vegas are cutting costs as much as possible this is a no-brainer for them. If your casino floor isn’t making much money, why not cut your beverage costs?

    This is another reason I’m staying away from Vegas. All this nickel and diming and cost cutting is getting to me especially as someone who frequents the casinos every few months. I’m just going to wait for another good comp offer from MGM and not give them a single cent on the gambling floor. I don’t care if my offers go downhill either.

  8. As someone who does gamble, I think they’re squeezing too hard. The conglomerates are taking the fun out of things while simultaneously hitting people with all sorts of nickel and dime charges. Resort Fees, charging for self parking, tougher comps overall, and now this? There’s a certain threshold where you just sound cheap, and with this change, they’ve gotten there.

  9. More alcohol means means more betting and less intelligent plays. Free alcohol is a moneymaker for the casinos. Don’t think they will ever get rid of it.

  10. Interesting. Hope it doesn’t happen. I usually don’t gamble, but I like the cheap drinks; downtown you can get microbrews for only $2.50. Guess I don’t mind paying that way (as opposed to “max bets” on a machine).


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