More foreign Vegas visits don’t equal more tips, workers say

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LAS VEGAS — Servers and dealers on the Las Vegas Strip say they’re worried that as more foreign visitors hit the restaurants and casinos, they’ll receive smaller tips because the tourists are coming from countries like China, where American-style, 20 percent gratuities are uncommon.

“It’s very difficult when you’re serving or relying on tips and the majority of your guests are foreign. They don’t tip you, or they may have a $200 meal and tip you a dollar per person,” said Cheryl Holt, who has been a food server on the Strip since 2011.

With a $200 dinner check, Holt said as a server, she’d typically have to pass on about $10 to the rest of the service staff, including a bartender, busser and food runner. If she receives a small tip, Holt said she’s paying for those customers to eat at her table.

Holt told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that in her experience, visitors from Canada tend to tip about 10 percent. European tourists give smaller tips and Chinese visitors give about $1 per person.

Hotels and resorts should help educate visitors, perhaps by displaying signs at dealer tables noting that the dealers expect tips, according to Xiaosheng Huang, a Chinese immigration lawyer in Las Vegas.

“Chinese normally think service workers are paid by the boss and need not to be paid separately,” Huang said. “This is a side of cultural misunderstanding.”

Dealers in the casinos, who receive about 80 percent of their income in gratuities, worry about stingy tips too, according to Joseph Carbon, who represents dealers at Caesars Palace, Harrah’s Las Vegas, Bally’s, Paris Las Vegas, and Wynn Las Vegas as the head of the Transport Workers Union of America’s gaming division.

“Let’s face it, this is a tip town,” Carbon said.

Chinese tourists have an obligation to learn the culture they’re visiting, but tourism officials need to help too, according to Michael Boyd, with China Ni Hao, a New York firm that was hired to help McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas welcome Chinese visitors.

“We may just have to accept the fact that we want that business, we want them to come here, but if they feel gouged for a tip, they may go somewhere else,” Boyd said.

Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority spokeswoman Heidi Hayes said the agency does not have any program in place to educate foreign visitors about the culture.


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