How much tip money casino workers, bartenders, waiters, servers and other service industry employees take home usually depends on the generosity of strangers.
Although we may not be aware of it, positions such as slot attendants and dealers in US casinos make most of their money in tips, and those tips are not always generous.
But last week there was a major breakthrough on the matter in the state of Pennslyvania. For the first time since 1977, Pennsylvania’s tip regulations and minimum wage for tipped workers changed. New legislation from the Department of Labor and Industry hopes addressing and updating rules will further protect such workers.
Some changes include preventing businesses from deducting credit card fees from employee tips, hourly wages and how they are determined, and updates on how tips can be shared.
Pennsylvania minimum wage and tip regulation changes
The new regulations introduced on Aug. 5 update old laws. The updated rules affect tipped and salaried workers with fluctuating workweek schedules.
The new rules are part of a Senate bill introduced in the 2021-22 session sponsored by Senator Christine M. Tartaglione (D., Philadelphia) and include the following changes:
Credit card and other payment processing fees
• For credit cards and other noncash methods, PA employers will no longer be allowed to deduct processing fees (ranging from 1.5% to 3.5%). If they are tipped on a bill, that total amount will go to them.
• Employers must disclose that automatic gratuities are not tips for employees and provide a space on receipts to tip employees directly.
• The definition of a tipped employee is also updated. According to the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, employees now earn at least a minimum wage of $7.25.
• If all employees are paid at least the state minimum wage or higher, tip pools may include tipped and non-tipped employees.
• Managers and supervisors will not be receiving tips from a tip pool, though they may choose to contribute tips they earned to the tip pool.
80/20 rule for employees
• To qualify for that wage reduction to as low as $2.83, employees must spend 80% of their time during the week doing work that would earn them tips. Otherwise, their wages cannot be reduced. So, if a bartender spends 80% of their time making drinks and serving customers, once their base pay and tips go over $135, their rate can be reduced to $2.83.
• But, if they spend time cleaning the bar, setting up tables, and doing duties that would not earn them tips, which is more than 20% of their weekly tie, they will no longer be subject to that wage change.
The updates are made to provide protections to workers’ pay, ensuring servers get to keep the money they make.
How much should you tip your casino dealer?
Remember, Pennsylvania has several legal retail casinos, many staffed with hourly workers that accept tips (and who are undoubtedly ecstatic about the change.) These casinos include Live! Philadelphia and Rivers Casino.
While tipping casino staff is optional, it is considered common best practice. These are usually percentage-based with a minimum tip amount.
There’s no set amount for tipping after hitting the jackpot. In Vegas (and most US states), hand pay is any slot jackpot over $1,200, so for a payout to be received, a slot attendant must come and check the machine personally. Therefore, it’s expected that a lucky winner tips the slot attendant. Slot machine players usually tip about 0.2-20% of the jackpot, ranging from $20 to $1,000 or even more.
Ideally, blackjack and other table game dealers are tipped a minimum of $5 per hour of play, and it is customary to tip using casino chips instead of cash. Another fun way to tip a dealer is by placing the bet for them, making them root for you to win.
Many players choose to tip their poker dealers $1-$2 per pot won. If it’s a bigger pot, players tip $5, $10 or $25.
When it comes to tipping bartenders or cocktail servers working in a casino, that’s usually based on how much a player has won or spent on a drink. The typical tip for drinks, if you’re only ordering one or twp at a time and cashing out with each order, the etiquette is typically to tip $1 per drink. But when it comes to just paying the bill in total, 15–20% is usually what’s expected.
Some players even go the extra mile and tip bartenders $5 for the first drink and $2 for subsequent drinks. Waiters and waitresses can get a standard 15% tip at most restaurants or cocktail bars.
When it comes to calling taxi, Uber or Lyft, tipping your driver at least 15% of the fare is considered typical.