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Some Final Words on Tipping

Dear Readers,
In this month’s column we’re wrapping up our conversation on tipping at Bingo. I want to thank all the players and workers who took the time to weigh in on the subject. It is always gratifying here at the Bingo Bugle when we are able to generate lively discussion that explores multiple sides of a gaming issue. I hope you found these letters engaging and informative. I certainly did! —Aunt Bingo

Dear Aunt Bingo,

As Bingo players here in Las Vegas for the last 20 plus years, the following is a breakdown of Bingo costs and tipping.
Bingo began here in the ’90s with a choice of $3, $4, $7 and $9 packets. No extras! This often allowed patrons to play more than one session per day. Today, Bingo can be costly—with electronic Bingo at an added fee of $2-$3 depending on the type of electronic chosen and all the added jackpots, each requiring $l-$2 extra per packet for validation and the dollar increase of each packet price. Also, with the increased amount of packets purchased in the machine and allowed, winning has become more difficult.
As for tipping, here is a typical scenario: Player spends $30 for the game. Played and lost five to six previous games played. Then a $50 win occurs. Breakdown: $50 win minus $30 cost = $20 net. With that win, if you give the attendant $1 it’s 5% of the net win. That’s reality.
The casinos should compensate their attendants with the profits they make from Bingo. Bingo for us is our entertainment, and we tip whatever we can and feel is reasonable. —MD, Las Vegas, via email

Dear Aunt Bingo,

You were wrong to make the 88-year-old widow, living on Social Security, feel even worse about her tip after winning $800. Since she plays at this Bingo hall a lot, she has probably spent a lot more than she has won. The agents probably know her and her circumstances. Tipping is not an obligation; in fact she did not have to tip at all. Tipping has become a form of extortion and should not be expected. Other countries do not tip in such large amounts; some countries do not tip at all.
Tipping is a sore spot with many people. Since most tips are pooled and divided among all agents, the customer is contributing to the wealth of some unknown entity who does not pay the employees enough because their wages are expected to be paid partly by tips. —A Texas Player, via email

Dear Aunt Bingo,

I am a Bingo agent in Las Vegas and would like to respond to the $20 tip issue.
First of all, to the person that said we don’t offer a service to our customers, our entire job is customer service. We explain the procedure and our packets, we give advice on the best buy-in for the customer’s price range, we sell the packets, we assist on the floor when people need it, we verify their Bingos and bring them money, and we daub players’ cards when they have to go to the bathroom. I have also worked at places where we had to clean up their trash, wash tables and clean ashtrays between sessions. If that’s not serving the customer, I don’t know what is.
A Bingo agent starts out at minimum wage and on-call until a full time position becomes available. (This could take years!) Most rooms have three or four on-call agents which means the bottom agent may get as few as eight hours a month. We can’t get another job because we need to be available for Bingo.
The going rate for a Bingo tip is 10%. (Waitresses are up to 15-20% now.) That means if you win $50 a good tip would be $5. We seldom get that; we are lucky to get 1-3%. If we have a lot of new players, we often get nothing. Tips are gratuities and while we rely on them we never expect them and are grateful for any amount we get. The agent was wrong to make the winner feel bad about her tip of $20 and hopefully was reprimanded. Bottom line: If you received good service its only right to give a tip. A lot of us in Las Vegas make our living from tips. Imagine how it would be if players had to go to the cage to get their own payouts while the game continued.
An added note: If you are struggling to make ends meet and a $5 tip is going to break you, maybe you shouldn’t be gambling in the first place. —Bingo Agent, Las Vegas, via email

Dear Aunt Bingo,

I have worked in the Bingo Department of Las Vegas casinos for most of my adult life. I don’t have any knowledge about any other places. Every place that I have worked the Bingo crew was very grateful for every tip we received whether big or small.
We realize tipping is optional and anyone applying pressure on a patron to tip would not be employed long where I have worked. The Bingo crews make this look like a fun job and it can be, but you earn every dollar. We work most of the day on our feet. We must be exact in our money transactions both in and out. We perform our duties in a high-pressure environment while projecting a fun and happy attitude to our patrons. This is an entertainment business and in LV the patrons have many places to choose from. We get to know and love our regular customers and help new people to figure out what to do so they can enjoy their experience. The tips we receive enable us to support our families and maintain our homes. They certainly don’t make any of us rich.
The bottom line is this…if you feel good about tipping, please do so and we are grateful. If you don’t care to tip, don’t. We’ll be glad you came to our place to play, regardless.

Share your views! Write to Aunt Bingo c/o the Bingo Bugle, P.O. Box 527, Vashon, Washington 98070, or email her at STENGL456@aol.com. Be sure to include your name and address (you can request that your name not be published), as typically she will not include anonymous letters in her columns.

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