Cocktail waitresses from four Atlantic City casinos owned by Caesars Entertainment delivered a petition to the state's Division of Gaming Enforcement today, asking the agency to take a closer look at how the casinos are serving drinks to their customers.
The casinos have implemented new beverage service programs that largely take the waitresses, part of the Local 54 of the Unite Here union, out of the equation, said Ben Begleiter, a research analyst at Local 54. Customers can order beverages through an automated system, and then waitresses are dispatched to different parts of the casino to deliver those drinks.
It's meant to streamline operations, Begleiter said, but that system inhibits the waitresses' ability to gauge the intoxication of their customers and limit their drinks accordingly.
"All of these cocktail waitresses have extensive training in identifying when people are inebriated so they can cut them off. They have extensive training in slowing down how often they bring drinks so that people don't become overly intoxicated," Begleiter said.
"Now they don't have the ability to do any of that."
"God forbid that someone is intoxicated and gets in a car and hurts themselves or someone else," he added. "Not only is there a liability on the company, there is a potential liability on the server."
In the petition, the waitresses urged the agency to scrutinize the new beverage programs more closely to determine whether they violate state liquor laws, which make it illegal to serve alcohol to someone who is already intoxicated.
"My job is to sit by the bar and wait till a tray has 10 drinks on it, and then I have to run out and deliver them as fast as I can. And I'm timed," Eve Davis, a 27-year cocktail waitress at Showboat, said in a statement. "I'm scared that I could serve a guest who is intoxicated and lose my job and ability to support my family. I have two boys in college, and they depend on me."
A representative from Caesars Entertainment said the company could not comment.