Casino etiquette gets overwhelmed with all the "jingling-jangling" slots games, frenetic activity at the craps tables, and the uproarious energy of the roulette tables.
Many a player has described feeling gob-smacked upon entering a casino. It's a lot to take in. A delirious maze of intoxicating excitement as far as the eye can see. Scantily clad cocktail waitresses, snazzy dealers, and throngs of eager revellers looking to wager on their favorite casino games – it's a ruckus, but somehow everything works perfectly.
Thanks to that, things really do run smoothly at the casino. Get comfortable folks, we're going to take you on the most comprehensive walk-through you will ever need on the unspoken rules of play at the casino.
Table of Contents
WHAT IS CASINO ETIQUETTE?
The moment you enter a casino, you are required and expected to play by the rules. Some of these rules are posted at the tables for all to see, others are unspoken rules which you are expected to know. When you sit down to a game of blackjack, roulette, or Caribbean Stud poker, the dealer and the players expect one another to abide by certain codes of conduct.
Each game that you play has a set of rules that you're expected to understand. For example, when you sit down at a casino table, how do you choose your seat? How do you place a bet? Are you allowed to interrupt the dealer with questions and comments? Look around you; there is an understanding among casino players. That's casino etiquette. Let's examine many different scenarios you're likely to encounter with the rules of play at a casino:
• Electronic Devices – most everyone has a smartphone, PC, laptop, iPad, or iPod nowadays, but that doesn't mean you should be using these electronic devices at the casino tables. To avoid any unpleasantries whatsoever, simply leave them in your hotel room, or in the case of your smartphone switch it to silent, vibrate, or airplane mode. nobody wants to be ejected from a casino for a violation of the rules.
• Don't be Disruptive at the Table – casinos are a lot more tolerant of chitchat, jocularity, and excited behavior than an Opera House, but that doesn't excuse disruptive behavior at the table. Players are advised to use common sense when joining a table, commenting, or engaging with other players.
If the mood is ebullient and wild, by all means, participate in the festivities. If it is a somber mood at the table owing to high-stakes play, boorish behavior will certainly not be appreciated. If players are approachable and friendly, by all means, reciprocate. The dealer is used to engaging with players during betting sessions, so be friendly, polite, and respectful at all times.
• Place Your Cash on the Table – once you are seated at the casino table, always place your money on the table in front of you – never hand it to the dealer. You may motion with your hand that you are looking to buy in, but never interrupt the dealer in the middle of a game.
• Good Personal Hygiene – suffice it to say, you would certainly not want to sit next to somebody with fetid breath or a repugnant body odor. In much the same fashion, the casino and fellow players expect the same of you.
This is an extremely touchy subject, making it all the more important for you to pay particular attention to personal hygiene. Take a shower, or hot bath. Don't forget to brush your teeth, use mouthwash, floss, spray a little deodorant, perfume, cologne, or aftershave. You'll feel like a million dollars, and you’ll certainly make a terrific impression on everyone at the casino.
• Don't Kick up a Performance if You Lose – it's fair to say that nobody likes losing, but if you’re going to Vegas you must be prepared for any outcome. Winning is great, but chances are you may lose too. If you do, maintain your composure and never threaten or assault the dealer or any other players at the casino.
While this rule borders on commonsense, and strays a little from casino etiquette you should certainly bear it in mind. Las Vegas, Nevada is a fun city, but it's not the Wild West. There are strict rules in place and police officers will be quick to respond if you break the law. Remember that old expression by Christopher Earle: Be Humble in Victory and Gracious in Defeat? This also applies in casinos too.
• Drinking and Smoking at the Tables – as a legal-age player in a Las Vegas casino, you are entitled to drink and smoke at your leisure. This may come as a surprise in today's times, where public smoking is not permitted in most venues.
At casinos, you are free to enjoy yourself as you please. In fact, Las Vegas also permits marijuana for recreational use if you are at least 21 years of age. However, it's important to make a distinction between having it in your possession (quotas apply) and actually smoking it.
As a rule: never smoke marijuana in any public place in Las Vegas. You may smoke in private only, and if you are visiting a Las Vegas hotel and casino, always enquire with the front desk whether weed consumption is legal.
• Patience is a Virtue – as soon you are ready to hit the blackjack tables, craps tables, or roulette tables, be mindful of other players who are waiting to play. If all the seats are taken, and even if you notice other players are merely seated but not playing – don't force them out of their seats.
Unruly conduct is not acceptable. You may politely request if they are playing, and based on their response act accordingly. If other players around you are also waiting to play, inform them that you are next in line for the seat. People generally behave respectfully if you show them respect.
• There Are Different Rules at Land-Based Casinos than Online Casinos - many folks already play at licensed and regulated online casino. The rules are very different at virtual casinos since you're not interacting with the establishment, or other players in a physical sense. You can gamble in your PJ's, while you are eating, drinking, smoking, or curling your hair.
Land-based casinos require your physical presence and that's why the rules are markedly different. There are many other differences in play, notably the actions that you are required to take when you're seated at the table.
You won't be clicking buttons to initiate play; you will be motioning to the dealer when you wish to buy in, or verbally communicating with casino management and fellow players. It is strongly advised that you carry yourself with dignity and respect, knowing that cordiality is required at casinos.
• Payouts at Casino Tables – when casinos are busy, expect the tables to be packed to capacity. If you're one of the lucky ones who has a seat, congratulations! In multiplayer games of roulette, craps, blackjack, baccarat, poker, etcetera, you will have to wait for the dealer to make payments on winning bets.
Try not to pester the dealer about making your payout – your payment will be made. There is an order to things at the casino. It helps the dealers manage the payments and it helps the players to know that they've been paid.
Typically, dealers will deal cards, or take bets in a specific sequence. It could be from left to right, right to left, in a clockwise, or anticlockwise fashion. Watch the dealer at the table and you will know when your turn is coming.
• Never Eat at the Casino Tables - imagine your displeasure if you took a seat at a blackjack table, only to find that the felt in front of you was greasy with pink sauce, ketchup, and Spaghetti Bolognese? Of course, this never happens.
You always sit down to a clean table with a clean betting deck. The reason for this is that eating at casino tables is generally not permitted. While many people say that rules are meant to be broken, that simply doesn't fly at Las Vegas casinos.
It's about being mindful of what you are doing, and how you are behaving. If the casino allows you to eat at the table, respect that privilege.
• Play Sober or Pretty Close to It – on the roads they say Stay Sober or Get Pulled Over. In the casinos, you've got a little more leeway, but not too much. Casino gambling is lots of fun, but it's also a serious activity. The less sober you are, the less in control you are. Good casino etiquette requires you to behave properly at the tables.
You cannot possibly hope to behave properly if you are intoxicated, sedated, drugged or under the influence of any substances. A sober mind is a safe mind. Whether its prescription medication or alcohol, remember you are only in control when you are in control and that means free from depressants, intoxicants, and drugs.
That doesn't mean you can't have a good time at the casino – on the contrary. When you’re eating your meals, or attending shows, feel free to imbibe and enjoy yourself. When you’re gambling for real money, take care of your bankroll!
HOW POPULAR IS CASINO GAMING IN THE UNITED STATES?
We begin our fascinating journey with some incredible insights from the AGA Survey of the Commercial Casino Industry (State of the States 2018). The AGA overseas the activities of the American casino industry which is estimated at $261 billion, supporting 1.8 million jobs, and subject to compliance with multiple state and federal regulations. In 2017, the US gaming industry generated revenues of $40.28 billion, up 3.4% from 2016.
20 of 24 commercial states with casinos in the US reported revenue increases year-on-year in 2017. As you might have guessed, Nevada rules the roost when it comes to the number of casinos at 215, with 1970 electronic gaming device locations.
Nevada also provides employment for an estimated 409,444 people, with wages of $18.55 billion paid out per year (2017: Oxford Economics). Leading statistics portal, Statista research indicates the following about Americans who gambled on slots within the last 12 months in 2018, by age group:
• 21.93% of Americans (18-29 years old)
• 30.18% of Americans (30-49 years old)
• 29.4% of Americans (50-64 years old)
Given the US population size of 329,332,702 people (United Nations data for 2019) tens of millions of players frequent US casinos every year. Since there is no official Casino Etiquette Handbook that players are required to read, how does everyone know what sort of behavior is expected of them at the casino?
This comprehensive casino etiquette guide provides all the information you need to know about what casinos expect of players, and what your fellow players expect of you at the blackjack tables, roulette tables, slot machine games, et al.
FOLLOWING THE RULES OF PLAY IN LAS VEGAS CASINOS
Casino etiquette applies to everyone of legal age at the casino. Rule variations between games do not excuse players from generally accepted codes of conduct at the casino. The moment you enter a casino, you are expected to comply with casino etiquette.
Players who intentionally violate the rules of play will be asked to leave the casino floor by management. It's worth pointing out that casino etiquette will not increase your chances of winning, it will merely endear you to the establishment and fellow players.
As a responsible, mindful, and courteous player, you will always be treated with respect by the casino and fellow players. The objective of frequenting a Las Vegas casino is simply to increase your enjoyment without taking away from anyone else's. It's known as Pareto Efficiency and it applies to everyone at the casino.
Misbehavior will not be tolerated at Las Vegas casinos, nor will ignorance fly as an excuse. Casino etiquette is the accepted code of conduct that casinos expect you to comply with. It's not difficult to behave with decorum; simply respect the establishment and the players and follow a few basic rules and you'll be right as rain.
If you happen to transgress, simply apologize to the dealer, or fellow players and all will be forgotten. There are many people who visit casinos from many different walks of life in many different countries. Yet somehow, the overall mood is one of congeniality and mutual respect.
At times, you may be approached by security team, dealers or fellow players to refrain from certain behaviors. For example, you may be watching a Las Vegas show and be requested to put your smartphone away since it is illegal to record the shows according to Nevada law.
In much the same way, you will not be allowed to bring your take-out food with you to the blackjack tables and eat all over the betting felt. Respect establishment, and the establishment will respect you.
The moment you breeze through the doors at the casino, you'll instantly notice the way other players are dressed. Is it casual? Smart casual? Formal? The dress code is a big part of the overall casino etiquette. Different casinos have different images that they like to project. The dress code at the high roller lounge of the Bellagio Hotel & Casino is worlds apart from the dress code on the general casino floor at the Flamingo Hotel & Casino.
In classy establishments, wear your best attire. In family-friendly casinos with low stakes card, table, and slot machine games, feel free to walk around in shorts, sandals and T-shirts.
Once again, use your discretion to ascertain the style that is expected of you at the casino. The mise-en-scene, décor, and ambience are great barometers of what to expect. If you're unsure, ask the front desk, or one of the casino managers to assist you.
WHAT IS THE APPROPRIATE CASINO HOST TIPPING ETIQUETTE?
Here's a question that gets asked all the time. Visitors at casinos come from many different places in the world. In some countries, tipping is really important, while in others it's less of an issue. The question then becomes: what is the appropriate casino host tipping etiquette? As a rule, you want to remember that many casino workers operate on a minimum wage salary.
This is true of housekeeping staff, front desk personnel, waiters and waitresses, bellhops, valet service, cocktail waitresses, casino dealers, slot attendants, and buffet workers.
There is no generally accepted dollar value that you should stick to when tipping casino hosts, but a little common sense goes a long way. For example, it's always a good idea to tip 15% to 25% for waitstaff in a restaurant. If your casino host is serving you at a table, this goes without saying.
If you are gambling at a blackjack table, roulette table, poker table, etc, and the cocktail waitresses give you a free drink, oblige them with a small tip $1 or $2. If you’re having a particularly impressive run at the tables, feel free to tip them $5 or even $10.
It's also important to tip dealers. You don't only tip the dealer if you win – that would leave many dealers high and dry. If the dealer is polite, respectful, and helpful, you are welcome to tip the dealer $5 $10 for his or her efforts.
Casino aficionados state that the average going rate for dealer tips is $5 per hour or a percentage of your average bet per hour. Assuming you bet $50 per hour, you may want to tip the dealer $10 at the end of your gaming session. It's important to know how to tip at the tables.
You can either place a bet for the dealer alongside your bet and indicate as much to the dealer. If you win, the dealer wins too. Alternatively, you could move to a chip on the table indicating that is the dealer’s tip. Never hand money to a dealer – all tips should be slowly slid across the table, or simply move with your hand. Once again, if you're unsure – simply tell the dealer you would like to tip them.
WHAT IS THE GENERALLY ACCEPTED CASINO CARD ETIQUETTE?
Once you’re seated at your table, feel free to ask the blackjack dealer if they have any helpful advice for you. Try to do this before play begins. You may be surprised to know that dealers may be forthcoming with complimentary cheat sheets, blackjack strategy charts, rulebooks, and other useful tidbits of information.
These pointers are designed to help you play better, and enjoy a fully immersive experience at the tables. It's always a good idea to ask for dealer advice since they know a thing or two about the games.
With card games, you may be a little intimidated to ask the dealer about the rules of play, or how to handle the cards while the table is busy. Take a moment to look around you. How are other players handling their cards at the table? As a rule, take special care with playing cards.
If your cards are dealt face up to you – don't touch them. Casinos do not want players marking cards, manipulating cards, bending cards, or otherwise defacing them. If your cards are dealt face down, obviously you have to physically touch them to play them. A gentle touch is all that's required. Under no circumstances should you ever attempt to switch cards, mark cards, or remove cards from the table.
Play your hand cautiously. Don't flesh your cards to other players – that improper behavior at the casino. You're welcome to stack your chips in front of you, or roll them around in your hands, provided you don't disrupt other players.
If for any reason you need to step away from the table, wait until the round of play is over and all bets have been paid. Never leave your chips on the table and attended, and do not ask other players to keep your seat and watch your chip stack.
With betting, you certainly want to know the minimum and maximum requirements for every game that you are playing. In blackjack, for example, the ‘double’ option will require you to double your bet (your initial bet) after which time you will receive a final card. Know the minimum and maximum bet requirements for all the games you wish to play.
That’s a wrap on casino etiquette. Feel free to consult this comprehensive resource anytime you’re a little unsure about what casinos expect of you and what you can expect from them.