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Are Drinks Really Free at Casinos?

Are drinks free at casinos?

No, drinks are generally not free at casinos anymore. In the past, casinos would offer free alcoholic drinks to players as a way to keep them gambling longer. However, this practice has largely gone away for a few key reasons:

  • Liability concerns – Getting players intoxicated brings up liability issues if they get hurt or hurt others.
  • Regulations – Many jurisdictions have enacted regulations limiting or prohibiting free drinks at casinos to reduce problem gambling associated with alcohol.
  • Cost cutting – Free drinks are an expensive perk for casinos, so many have cut back to increase profit margins.
  • Competition – With more casinos today, the competition for players is fierce. Free drinks are no longer seen as a competitive advantage in most markets.
  • Changing demographics – Younger casino patrons tend to be more health conscious and less interested in free but watered-down drinks.
  • So while a few casinos may still offer free drinks to players who are actively gambling, this practice is now the exception rather than the rule. Most casinos today charge players full price for alcoholic drinks just like any bar or restaurant. Non-alcoholic drinks like soda, coffee and juice are usually free for anyone playing at a machine or table.

    Top Tips for Getting Casino Drinks

    Even though free drinks are less common, there are still some ways to get casino drinks at reduced prices or even for free if you play your cards right (pun intended!). Here are my top tips:

    Sign up for players club cards

    Nearly every casino has a loyalty players club card that you can sign up for free. These cards allow the casino to track your play, and the most common benefit is earning comps – free stuff from the casino. This can include discounted or free drinks, buffet passes, room stays and more based on the amount you gamble. The more you play, the more comps you earn, so signing up for the card is step one.

    Know which games offer better comp earning

    Not all games are created equal when it comes to earning comps. Here are some guidelines for which games tend to earn better comps:

    • Slots – Lowest comp earning for time spent playing. You need longer play sessions to rack up comps.

    • Blackjack – Better comp earning potential than slots. The casino has to pay out more winnings in blackjack.

    • Baccarat/mini baccarat – One of the best games for comp earning due to the very high betting limits. Even modest bets can earn great comps.

    • Poker – Depends heavily on the casino. Some offer excellent comp programs for poker players based on time played, not on bets.

    Focus play during peak times

    When the casino is busiest, competition for players is highest. Weekend and evening hours tend to be peak times when the casino wants to keep players happy and playing longer, so they may loosen up on free drink offers. Having an active players card while playing during peak hours can maximize the number of drink comps you earn.

    Tip the cocktail waitress

    Cocktail waitresses have some discretion to offer guests drinks beyond what their comp balances allow if tipped well. Leaving a dollar or two tip when ordering each round can incentivize the waitress to come back more often. Just be sure to tip on the first few rounds before you get too intoxicated!

    Chat up the bartender

    If you‘re playing at slots or tables near the bar, spark up a casual chat when ordering drinks. Getting to know the bartender as a friendly regular rather than just another customer can sometimes lead to extra freebies. Just avoid being too pushy.

    Time drinks around game play

    Order drinks during down time in gaming sessions rather than right before big bets or hands. The casino wants you to have drinks in hand to keep you gaming, not distract you from it. So timed properly, waitresses are more likely to offer drinks than if it interrupts your play.

    Pace yourself

    Chugging down free drinks as fast as possible is not the best approach. Drink slowly so you don‘t appear overly intoxicated, and casinos will be more willing to continue offering drinks to keep you relaxed and hanging around longer. And of course, responsible drinking means more fun.

    How Much Money Should I Gamble to Get Free Drinks?

    There is no universal dollar amount for how much you need to gamble to earn a free drink comp at a casino. Comp earning rates can vary widely depending on:

    • The individual casino‘s comp policies
    • Which game(s) you play
    • Your average bet size
    • Your length of play
    • Your player‘s card tier status

    However, based on industry data, here are some very rough guidelines for average comp earning rates that could translate to a free drink:

    At slot machines:
    – Normal play: $60+ per hour gambled
    – High roller play: $300+ per hour gambled

    At blackjack tables:
    – Normal play: $100+ per hour gambled
    – High roller play: $500+ per hour gambled

    So for the average casino gambler, betting $60 per hour on slots or $100 per hour at blackjack provides a reasonable chance to earn a free drink comp after an hour or two of play. High rollers risking bigger money should expect to earn comped drinks faster.

    But again, policies vary dramatically between casinos, so check the specific comp rate for the games you intend to play by asking the players club or pit boss. This can give you a better idea of how much play is needed to earn that first gratis cocktail.

    Getting the Most Out of Your Casino Drink Comps

    If you‘ve earned free drink credits in your players account, be smart about redeeming them:

    • Avoid top shelf – Order well/call brand drinks instead of premium to make comps last longer

    • Alternate alcohol & non-alcohol – The casino wants you buzzed, not drunk. Space out drinks with water and soda.

    • Play high limit – Move to higher minimum tables or slots as they earn comps faster.

    • Play peak hours – Evenings and weekends mean quicker comp earnings.

    • Tip well on first drink – Up your chances for extra drinks by tipping cocktail servers on the initial round.

    • Confirm comp balance – Ask at the players club booth to verify you have credits before ordering.

    • Avoid just playing for comps – Moderate actual gambling with comp drinking to avoid drawing attention.

    • Stay until credits are gone – Don‘t leave right after using up all your comped drinks credits.

    • Enjoy responsibly! – Free drinks are meant to be a bonus, not create issues.

    So in summary, getting free drinks at casinos today generally requires active slot play, gambling at high limit tables, and/or redeeming comps earned on a players card. While not as common as the "good old days," freebies are still achievable for savvy gamblers who play their cards right. Just remember to always drink and gamble responsibly. Let me know if you have any other casino drink comp questions!


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