Will Robots be Replacing Casino Bartenders in the Near Future?

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Machines are there to make our lives easier, although the possibility exists that these technologies might ultimately outdo us at our jobs.  A recent dilemma has been plaguing casino bartenders regarding robots that are encroaching on their livelihoods.

Since time began, humans have created contraptions to make their life easier.  From rudimentary lever apparatuses used by cavemen to today’s smart robotics, we have made good use of our rational thought to create objects that can simplify our daily lives.

But what if you wake up one day, only to find out that a robot has usurped your current job role?  After the initial shock and a hard blow to your self-esteem, you’ll probably end up looking for another job.  You might even make a pitstop at your favourite casino to let off some steam.  Sadly, to your utter surprise and horror, the bartender on the gaming floor has been replaced by a robot too!

Rise of the Machines     

The Terminator was such a successful movie because it spoke about the dark side of technology and man’s fear of being destroyed by his own creation. This tech-noir addresses the inherent fear of robotics becoming completely uncontrollable when aligned with the right preconditions.

The Terminator came out at the time when the auto industry was embracing robotic car assembly lines, effectively leading to many job redundancies. A factory robot minimises human error, saves money on wages and injury payouts, and fastens the production process.

As machines evolved from single robotic arms in factories to comprehensive, humanoid robots that walk and talk, our deep-rooted fear of technology grew. What if an automated vehicle kills a human? What if we design a system that decides to eliminate us? Luckily, we’re not there yet, but we are on the verge of having our drinks at casinos poured by robots.

Beerbot 2020

The next phase in the tech bar revolution is a bar computer with a touch screen and voila – there’s no more need for a bartender.  Naturally, there still needs to be some human interaction with the machine since they can’t read your mind or stock themselves up yet.

One such machine is the Smartender, an intelligent device and bartender in one. A server just needs to add some ice to a glass, slot it into the machine, and select the desired drink option. The Smartender offers hundreds of trendy drink recipes in thousands of combinations.

Caesars has already introduced bar-bots in its Atlantic City casinos, and MGM Resorts is looking at doing the same. With current social distancing requirements, a bar-bot might be the solution, even though this is not a win-win situation for everyone.

Bar Workers Protest

Bartenders that have been supplemented with bar bots are naturally upset. However, the cocktail waitrons at Caesars Atlantic City casinos are especially upset since the ordering has been put directly into the customers’ hands.  Patrons can now order drinks straight from a terminal at their gambling table.  The order then goes to a bar-bot, and the server merely brings the customer their drinks.

Some of the casino waitrons have filed a petition with the New Jersey Gaming Enforcement regulator. The petition asks the department to screen the system for any apparent problems.  One of the issues mentioned was the lack of client contact. Without proper interaction before and after a drink order, a waitron can’t tell if a customer is too intoxicated and should be cut off.

The Price of Progress

The most prominent opponents of the robotic bartender machines are the waitrons and the bartenders, although many customers have also raised concerns about the bar-bots.  According to visitors who frequent popular Las Vegas forums and blogs, most of the comments appear to be negative.

Several people complained about the loss of jobs, the shrinking of the middle class, and the growing gap between the rich and the poor. Others lamented the loss of human interaction and the replacement of the bartender chitchat with impersonal drink-bot commands.

Our opinion is that bartenders and waitrons should be kept in the casinos where they belong, as they’re a vital part of the casino experience. As for the bar-bot, we’re waiting for them to become cheap enough for us to have them installed in our homes instead.

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