How do casinos in Las Vegas get their glasses back?
May 21, 2009 9:36 AM   Subscribe

How do casinos in Las Vegas get their glasses back when you walk them down the strip?

Las Vegas seems to have no problem with you walking around on the street with any type of alcoholic drink, and there have been a few times I've inadvertently walked out of a casino with a whiskey glass and deposited it in a different casino when it was empty.

I usually feel bad about this, but I see many people doing the same, so I figure there must be some kind of system in place to deal with it. Maybe there is a glassware-sharing program, maybe the casinos agree to sort them and deliver them back to their rightful owners, or maybe losing glasses is just part of the overhead of running a casino and they're just written off.
posted by hutta to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
i don't think they really care, drinks are more or less a write off with the amount of money they make from gambling.
posted by fozzie33 at 9:38 AM on May 21, 2009

dunno about las vegas, but a bartender in new orleans told me that she makes a habit of picking up her bar's abandoned glasses on her way to work each day. but yeah, they just mostly lose a lot of glasses.
posted by penchant at 9:43 AM on May 21, 2009

Response by poster: Oh, as a follow-up question: If they're just written off, then what do the other casinos do with their foreign glasses? Do they throw them away, sell them, or donate them?
posted by hutta at 9:48 AM on May 21, 2009

Doing a Google search for "glassware bulk," I found an ad for printed glassware. Shotglasses for 55c/per, pints, 79c. Given that casinos don't actually have printed glasses, and probably buy them in extreme bulk, it's quite conceivable that their drink glasses come in around 10 cents a piece. At that price, the drink's ingredients cost more than the glass itself, so your answer is basically that it's a write-off, and they just buy more constantly to replace lost, broken, or stolen glasses.
posted by explosion at 9:51 AM on May 21, 2009

Here is a price list from a restaurant supplier; as you can see bar glasses can be had for $1-$2 each; I would bet the casinos get them much cheaper than that by buying in high volume; the liquor in the drink may cost them more than the glass.
posted by TedW at 9:53 AM on May 21, 2009

Are they printed? Maybe the casinos all use the same ones. That's what I would do, but IANACO.
posted by kestrel251 at 9:54 AM on May 21, 2009

Best answer: I've worked on a few casinos now (design, not bartending specifically) but I can tell you for sure that if it's not nailed down the casinos are fully aware that people can and will walk off with it. Replacement on an astounding number of things is just part of the overhead.

As for your follow up question, lots of abandoned glasses are probably thrown out by cleaning crews for being in odd places/full of gross stuff/broken. Some might make their way back to the nearest bar if they happen to look like the glasses they use. Each casino (or even bar within a casino) can have different glassware though and a bar won't serve a drink in some oddball glass- presentation is specified by management, so if the glass doesn't match, it will get chucked. But the casinos I've worked on are pretty fancy, high-end places. That may not be the case everywhere.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 9:56 AM on May 21, 2009

And to answer your follow-up question, the glassware may be enough of a match (for example, these are pretty ubiquitous for draft beer where I live) that they are simply washed and reused; if not the bartender or dishwasher probably will just throw it away or might take it home. Donating or selling them would be more time and effort than it is worth, given how cheap they are.
posted by TedW at 9:59 AM on May 21, 2009

Maybe the casinos all use the same ones.

Wouldn't surprise me, or maybe they don't care. I'm reminded of the casino-specific tokens used in the dollar slots -- they all get mixed up; doesn't seem to bother anybody.
posted by Rash at 10:25 AM on May 21, 2009

They don't care. They're cheap glasses. So many break or people walk off with them. They aren't going to care. At the prices they pay for the glasses, they are probably at costs of plastic cups that a fast food place gives out so they aren't "written off" -- the glasses are an expense, not an asset like the dishwashing machine. A casino is going to dump stray glasses from other places into the recycle bin along with their broken glasses and beer bottles. Although you see many drink glasses on the street along the strip, most people don't take them with them.
posted by birdherder at 10:27 AM on May 21, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I guess it was silly to think of the glasses as something of any significant value. Now that I'm really thinking about it, a beer glass shouldn't cost any more to produce than a beer bottle -- in fact, it's probably significantly less glass.
posted by hutta at 11:09 AM on May 21, 2009

Not anything that I can really put a finger on, but when I once accidentally took a beer glass out of MGM Grand (half full of beer) onto the pedestrian overpass, a bright light flashed as I exited. While I *was* exceptionally drunk at the time, I just figured it was them taking a security picture of me leaving with the glass.
posted by SpecialK at 12:13 PM on May 21, 2009

Lol specialK I'm pretty sure that was your drunk impression of the sun. Why would a casino care about a .50c glass considering that they are giving away a 4 dollar drink inside it as well?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:42 PM on May 21, 2009

Every glass I've ever been given in Vegas has looked identical to me. I'd be willing to bet (heh) that the casino operators all use the same vendor. MGM Mirage owns most of the big casinos on the strip (Bellagio, Circus Circus, MGM Grand, New York New York, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, Monte Carlo, and Mirage) so I'm even more sure those casinos use the same glasses.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 12:03 PM on May 22, 2009

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