If you’re planning a gambling trip to Vegas, or a family vacation, you probably got your hotel reservation in place, you know which casinos you want to spend some time in and maybe you even bought tickets to a couple of shows. Oh, and of course, dining in Vegas has become a big thing, with top-notch restaurants by world-renowned chefs like Gordon Ramzy, Bryce Shuman, brothers Bruce and Eric Bromberg and Lorena Garcia – so better make your reservations.
The one thing you might not be all that clear about, is drinking in Sin City. The man-made oasis in the middle of the desert has its own rules when it comes to booze. So here is what you need to know about drinking in Vegas.
Open Container Law
If you’re not familiar with the term “open container” when it comes to alcohol, this is how it goes: in the U.S. you aren’t allowed to consume alcohol on the streets, in parks, on the beach – basically, out in the open. That’s what the Open Container law stipulates – it’s against the law to walk, or drive around with an open bottle, can, jar or glass of alcohol.
Las Vegas though, as a mega-tourist attraction, is one of the only places in America where the open container law doesn’t apply; New Orleans is another, which is what makes Bourbon Street such a true delight.
So it’s OK to walk around with a beer, a glass of wine or any cocktail you desire. But one thing you should be aware of – no glass containers. If you bought a bottle of beer, pour it to a plastic cup before you start walking up and down the Strip. By the way, you’re also can’t carry a glass with coke in it, or orange juice. Just plastic cups people.
Another thing you should be aware of regarding the open container law – although it’s pretty obvious – you must be 21 years old in order to carry an open container with booze in it, whether you’re the one drinking it or not. So don’t give your kids to carry your beer, you might get them in trouble.
Two more things real quick: when you’re drinking, you must be 1000 feet (300 meters) from places of worship, schools, hospitals and homeless shelters. And, that’s the best one, if you buy a sealed container of alcohol, you must get 1000 feet away from where you purchased it before you can open it. This last one makes tons of sense, doesn’t it?
And now for the good news – alcohol can be purchased in Vegas 24 hours a day, seven days a week, same hours and days that the casinos are open (both in the city of Vegas and online casino in UK.) For all you Europeans raising an eyebrow, this is vastly different from the rest of the U.S. where selling of alcohol is forbidden between 4am to 10am, and of course, on Sundays.
That’s all the good news we had. Back to reality.
Drinks Are Getting Smaller
Believe it or not, but drinks are getting smaller in Vegas. Normally, traditionally, the standard portion of liquor is 1.5 ounces. That’s what you get in a shot glass, that’s the amount of gin you get when you order a gin & tonic.
Now, with MGM Resort leading the way, the New Vegas Liquor Portion is 1.25 ounces. It seems minor, but it is from it.
First of all, consumer wise, you are getting 5/6 of the alcohol. Your cocktail will have less of a kick, since the glasses stay the same size. And the knowing that the casino operator is skimping on your drink when you are spending money there, stings a bit. If in any other bar in the U.S., and the rest of the world for that matter, you are getting a certain amount of liquor in your drink, why would it be any different in the MGM Resort bar in Vegas? It’s not like that the MGM is a struggling business trying to cut costs in any way they can in order to stay open.
Casino operator wise, they are posed to save a lot of money. On every alcoholic drink served they are cutting 5/6 of the cost; this adds up.
Comped Drinks Policy is Getting Harsher
Like milk and honey, thunder and lightning, Fred Ester and Ginger Rogers – another splendid duo is gambling and alcohol. Being in a casino with a drink in your hand is set in stone, for most gamblers. And for that, one of the pillars of the casino experience is the free drinks – you call a waitress, she comes over, you order a drink and get it, just like that. Well, this ancient Vegas tradition is now being challenged!
Some of the mega casinos are creating a new drink-reality: you get what you spend. Meaning, the casinos keep an eye on how much you spend and according to that will decide whether to offer you a free drink.
This is now being tested on the machines – slot machines and video poker machines, since they are the easiest to track the amount of money a player spends. A green bulb will light up at the back of the machine you’re playing once you’ve spent enough to get a free drink. You playing the nickel machines and taking your time? The waitress won’t come your way.
A new dilemma has been created for the video poker players and those who wish to win online slots (even though they are on the casino floor 😉 – do I spend more on the machine in order to get a free drink, or play as I wish and just buy a drink? Stay tuned for scholarly articles coming out of the match departments of leading universities in coming years trying to answer this question.