My top 10 casino pet peeves

January 3, 2023 8:21 PM
  • Dennis Conrad
January 3, 2023 8:21 PM
  • Dennis Conrad

It has been many years since I’ve written about the biggest pet peeves I experience at casinos. These are small “pet” peeves, not the really big stuff that ticks me off, like tighter slots, huge ATM fees, and the very existence of resort fees at hotel-casinos. So I’ve decided to revisit my casino pet peeves and, for the first time, to rank them in a Top 10 format.

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My pet peeves may be very different than yours or the average casino customer’s. In fact, I’d be glad to hear your casino pet peeves and if I get enough of them, I’ll highlight them. Several years ago, I received two great ones from Simon Fort: “casino announcements over the PA that sound like Charlie Brown’s parents” and “casino-entrance security podiums as the gateway to a good time.”

So I give you my Top 10 Casino Pet Peeves, along with their current ranking and where they might have been ranked 10 years ago. The changes have been quite pronounced, as you’ll see; some have been due to changes in casino operations, some due to casino-industry developments (e.g., COVID 19), and others just due to changes in what ticks me off.

Dennis’s top 10 casino pet peeves

10. Credit-card charge with no purchase (last ranking: unranked) — I understand why at check-in, many hotel-casinos immediately charge $50, $100, or as much as $150 to my credit card. You want to make sure my credit card is valid and you’d rather nick me on the front end of the transaction than have me nick you somehow on the back end. But you know what, Ms. Hotel Director? Numerous hotels around the world don’t do this. You’re sending me a terrible message about how much you trust your customers and you already have my credit card that you can charge at checkout or every time I purchase something from you during my stay! This pet peeve has made rapid gains to get on my list and I can tell you that “early check-in fees” aren’t far behind.

9. 4 p.m. hotel check-in time, 11 a.m. checkout time (last ranking: #6) — This hotel-casino pet peeve has dropped a little on my peeve list, but not because it’s gotten any better, only because other things now bug me worse. It used to be standard to check into a resort at noon and check out at 3 p.m. But now it’s almost universally the policy that “we let you in at 4 PM and you must get out at 11 AM.” I’ve even seen a few 5 p.m. check-in policies and some 10 a.m. checkouts. Again, Ms. Hotel Director, I understand that COVID and tight job markets have left you short-staffed and that you need some basic turnaround time to clean a room, but, c’mon! I’m now paying a “daily” rate for your hotel room, where I can stay in it for less than 80% of the day. Maybe you should start charging me an “hourly” room rate and at least reward me for vacating your valuable room asset early.

8. Dirty ashtrays in the casino (last ranking: unranked) — No, Mr. Environmental Services Director, I’m not an anti-smoking zealot, even if I would prefer a non-smoking casino floor. But I find it disgusting to sit down at a slot or video poker machine and find an ashtray full of ashes and cigarette (even cigar) butts. Again, I know you’re short-staffed and that cigarette smokers can be tough to clean up after, but geez, aren’t you costing the casino money every time a player passes up a machine with a filled ashtray? Hey, during the height of COVID, you found a way to quickly sanitize a slot machine for the next player. Couldn’t you have an equivalent “ashtray clean-up crusade?”

7. Flipped employee name badges (last ranking: unranked) — I like the concept of employee name badges, I really do. It lets me know the name of the employee serving me. It personalizes the transaction. Sometimes the employee’s hometown is also listed, making a nice conversation starter. And if the employee really wowed me with their service, I have their name so I can give kudos to a supervisor. But what I’ve noticed over the years is an increasing number of employee name badges either on a neck rope or a clip chain, where the front side of the name badge flips over and you can’t read the employee’s name. Isn’t that an easy fix, Ms. HR Vice President? And while you’re at it, maybe you could get rid of the name badges that look like they were issued by the police. Sometimes the font size of the “Employee Number” is bigger than the size of the employee’s name!

6. Close-in executive parking (last ranking: unranked) — I’ll admit it, Mr. General Manager, casino parking in general ticks me off. Whether it’s poor exit signage, tight parking quarters conducive to dings, uncovered parking, and now even paying for parking, I “auto not” park with you! (Sorry). But what really frosts my already-gray hair is navigating this parking gauntlet, almost getting to the casino door, then seeing the parking signs: “Reserved for General Manager,” “Reserved for Tribal Council Members,” “Reserved for Gaming Commission.” (I should also add I like “Reserved for Employee of the Month”). But hey, shouldn’t your best, closest parking be exclusively reserved for customers? Am I missing something here?

5. The dual cashier cage/players club (last ranking: #8) — The combination of the cashier cage with the players club into one casino location has now become more common than not. I know why you’re doing it, Ms. Finance Director and Mr. Marketing Director: to save on staffing. But have you ever stood in a cashier/players club line and been behind three people cashing a check or getting a credit card advance? Ever gotten in a line of 15, just wanting to cash out your $10 in chump-change chips after losing at the tables? Ever just wanted to get a new players club card and had to wait 10 minutes in line just to get in action? I didn’t think so. If you had, you’d be more focused on halving your lines for these critical player functions, than doubling them.

4. Lines at restaurant, whole sections closed (last ranking: #4) — Again, I know, I know, Mr. F&B Director. You can’t find enough staff. You had to eliminate your buffet. You reduced the hours on many of your restaurants. I get it. I sympathize. But when you do have a restaurant open, couldn’t you have the whole restaurant open, so people in line can be seated at one of the inviting tables in the closed section? Couldn’t you press some of your supervisors into server duty? Couldn’t you have more tables for two rather than all of those tables for four, with only one or two people at them? Couldn’t you do something so I’m not sizzling while seeing seas of empty seats? Maybe just a pet peeve of mine, I guess.

3. Exit doors that open in instead of out (last ranking: #2) — Okay, maybe this peeve is a little picky. But for whatever reason, after 70 years on this planet, I expect to push a door to leave a building and when I push a door and bump into it because it requires a pull to exit, I feel stupid. I know, Ms. Facilities Manager, that you say you’ll have the same problem when guests enter if you flip the doors to exit. Well, here’s a thought. How about having the doors swing both ways?

2. Sticky buttons on slot and video poker machines (last ranking: unranked) — Agreed, I hardly play slots, but I do play video poker. Both have buttons to push in order to play (and yes, I realize many machines can also be played as a touch screen). Mr. Slot Director, do you know how frustrating it is to hit a machine button and not have it register because the button is defective? Do you know what happens when you hold a pair of aces in video poker and one of the holds doesn’t register and you lose out on a payout because of it? I know you have it posted that it’s my responsibility to make sure the machine has done what I asked it to do on any spin. But you know what? I play fast. I put it on auto pilot. You do want me to play fast, don’t you? Well, how about you do your part and institute a daily quality-control test for sticky buttons, so I don’t get so frustrated when playing? And I’m not alone in this being a pet peeve. Ask your other slot players. Ask your slot employees.

1. Partial ticket redemption (last ranking: unranked) — How did this happen? Did some casino executive or fast-talking vendor say, “Here’s an idea. Why don’t you have your ticket redemption kiosks not give full redemptions when your players cash out? Just give them the dollar amounts in cash, then issue them another ticket for the odd coin cashout amount that they can take to the main cashier to cash out?” Did you think your slot players wouldn’t hate that? Wouldn’t be inconvenienced having to go to the cage to cash out small-change amounts? Would take the ticket and put it back into a slot machine to insure they resume playing? Would throw out these two-bit tickets or never redeem them and you could keep the breakage? Wouldn’t feel ripped off in yet another way by the good-time casino? Yes, I see many casinos try to put lipstick on a pig by giving their slot players a chance to donate these small-change slot tickets to charity. To me, that doesn’t matter. Just give me the full amount I have coming to me, all at once in a single transaction. Don’t let this be my biggest pet peeve. And don’t let this be something that could come back to bite you in the butt. That’s when pet peeves become big grievances.

Earlier posts by Dennis: