As a long-standing service to our customers, casinos offer low-cost or free drinks, depending on state regulations. Some customers choose non-alcoholic beverages, while others choose to drink alcohol. The gaming industry is committed to safe and responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages and has extensive policies and programs to protect the safety of customers and the community while still allowing adults to drink responsibly.
Here are the facts about the industry's alcohol policies:
- Not all casinos provide free alcohol to their customers. Of the 23 states with commercial casino gaming, casinos in only 13—Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota and West Virginia—are permitted to offer free alcohol to their patrons. However, even though they can offer free alcohol, not all casinos in those states do. Casinos in other states must charge for alcoholic beverages. The AGA Code of Conduct for Responsible Gaming includes provisions for alcohol.
- The vast majority of guests consume alcohol responsibly or choose not to drink at all. Avid casino players like to be at the top of their game and therefore avoid the consumption of alcohol.
- Patrons come to casinos for an overall entertainment experience, not for free drinks.
- Like other liquor license holders, casino companies adhere to strict policies regarding alcohol service. Most casinos either have implemented voluntary responsible alcohol service programs, such as TIPS (Training for Intervention Procedures), or are required by the state to adhere to such programs, which include intoxication recognition training as well as ongoing employee awareness training and certification. A combination of regulatory requirements and company programs are in place to prevent customers who are visibly intoxicated from entering or remaining in a casino or from being served more alcohol.
- The gaming industry understands the dangers of drinking and driving and recognizes its responsibility to address this issue. Casino employees are trained to encourage those customers who are obviously impaired to either take a cab or ride with a designated driver. If an impaired guest insists on driving, personnel are trained to involve local police. Studies show that the presence of riverboat casinos does not generate a corresponding increase in vehicular accidents caused by drunk driving. In Mississippi, traffic fatality data for counties with gaming or significant gaming traffic, as identified by the Department of Public Safety Planning, show that alcohol was much less of a factor in these counties than in the state as a whole. In 1999, Mississippi had the lowest DUI rate of the decade, and the percentage of alcohol-related fatalities declined every year from 1993 to 1999. (Casinos opened there in 1992.)
- The responsible service of alcohol, including cutting off people who appear to be intoxicated, is not only the right thing to do, but it makes the best business sense. Drunk patrons are not good customers; there is no evidence that they spend more money, and they spoil the experience for other patrons.
Like other establishments that serve alcohol, casinos are businesses that provide—safely and responsibly—goods and services that customers want.