Question: In the Oct. 1 Detroit Free Press, there was a question about tipping. My question is also about tipping but more specifically as it pertains to a casino if you are lucky enough to win something big. A few weeks ago, my husband and I were vacationing in Deadwood, S.D., and I was one of the lucky ones who won at slots. My jackpot was just over $3,700. I won't tell you what I gave the guys who took my tax information and then came to pay me because in retrospect I think it was probably way too low. What would be the proper tip in this instance and who should you pay? I will probably never win that much again, but just in case I would like to be prepared to tip properly.
Answer: This columnist has no plans to become a weekly shill for the tipping industry. But, with that said, I have always considered myself to be in the hospitality business, not exclusively gaming. Hence, Chris, I will tackle these two questions featured today, then retreat next week to what most of you read this column for, gambling.
I begin with the No. 1 rule when it comes to tipping: If in doubt, TIP. Reason being, Chris, most front-line slot employees are paid minimum wage. A slot employee’s additional income comes through the gratuities of casino patrons. It is through your kind gestures of gratuity that slot employees make a living.
Whether you tip or not, and how much, is essentially up to you. That said, $50 to $100 on a $3,700 jackpot to the slot attendant who handled your payment is appropriate, especially if that individual had been helpful and pleasant toward you. Five percent of your total jackpot is not uncommon, especially on midrange jackpots of between $1,000 to $5,000.
Question: Any suggestions on how to make sure that tips left for the housekeeper who cleaned your hotel room actually get to that particular person? Or, do housekeeping tips go into a big pot and then get divvied up?
Typically, housekeeping operates on a “keep your own” basis so tips go directly to the individual cleaning your room. That is why I mentioned in a recent column that far too many gamblers slight housekeepers when they tip at the end of their stay because they are flat ass broke. Whoever scrubbed your toilet three of the four days you were there could be off on the day that you leave, and your gratuity ends up with her substitute.
Here is how and what to tip a hotel maid. I recommend $3 to $10 a night depending on the quality of service and the hotel. If there are three individuals or more in your room or suite, you should consider a bit larger tip. If a staff member brings up extra towels late at night or fulfills another request, tip $1 to $5. By tipping correctly, you show your appreciation and ensure that the chambermaid will take special care of your room.
Make sure that you mark your tip clearly. Leaving cash in the room is not a clear enough signal, as a chambermaid must be extremely careful about taking anything from your room. Enclose the tip in a sealed envelope (check the desk drawer for hotel stationery) and mark it “Maid” or “Chambermaid.” And if in your room there is a card giving the name of the person who cleaned the room for you, put that on the envelope, too.
Leave your tip in an obvious place such as on the pillow, the television or on the bathroom counter.
Leave your tip in cash, not with your spare change, lint included. NO, your empty beer cans that have a 5¢ deposit on them don’t count as a tip.
If you travel internationally, find out how to write "Chambermaid" (Camarera, Zimmermädchen or Femme de chambre) in the local language so that you can label the envelope appropriately.
Mark Pilarski is a nationally syndicated gaming writer. Visit him online at www.markpilarski.com or follow him on Twitter @MarkPilarski.