Okay, I’m finally rested up after ten wonderful but non-stop days with two always-energetic teenage girls. So, now for the rest of the senior-moment story I started earlier.
First, a response to some of your questions and comments: It was interesting that many other players shared similar experiences, including those who said that they were not seniors. So I guess it is just a problem with being human! Would this $1510 be considered a gambling loss on our tax return? Probably one of those gray areas about which I’d have to check with my tax preparer. But I’m guessing it would be a business loss of some sort on my Schedule C.
Anyway, to continue the story, we left the casino where our $1510 had “disappeared” and went to another casino where I had scheduled us for another playing session, coincidentally on the same game, NSUD’s. We could play this at the $2 level here, and I had dreams of our hitting an 8K royal that would erase the pain of the earlier mental slipup. It was not to be. Not only no 8K, but no 2K deuce jackpot either. Just another loss to add to the earlier one. (Actually the earlier session had seen an $810 loss even if we hadn’t lost the $1510. That 4-deuce thousand near the end of our session had lessened our loss but hadn’t got us out of the hole!)
We went home that Friday night, not giddy with joy – it is never as much fun to lose as it is to win – but not upset either. After 28 years of casino gambling, we are used to the roller-coaster ride. And perhaps the person who cashed the ticket desperately needed the money so we could just count it as a charitable act. A busy weekend followed and put this incident way back in our minds.
Come the following Monday morning we received a surprising call from a casino executive who had been on duty Friday night, and he had an interesting story to tell us.
Casino computers have the capability to track the path of every ticket. Actually before we left the casino on that Friday night we knew that someone had punched out our $1510 ticket just a couple minutes after we had left the machine, and a couple minutes later had cashed it in at a kiosk near the front door. It surprised us that this was possible since many casinos have a limit for such kiosks, often no more than $800 or at least no more than $1199. However, at this casino you could cash out at the kiosk for up to $3000.
After we left, this executive, who had been notified about our loss, viewed the security tape from the camera trained on the cash-out kiosk and recognized the woman who cashed in our $1510 ticket. And then he played a neat little trick on this well-known customer and gave her a call at her home. She had been in a tournament earlier that evening so he told her that she won a prize and she could come in and get it. She rushed right back to the casino and he directed her to follow him into an “office,” which happened to be a lock-up room for probable wrongdoers. There she was met by a gaming agent who had been called in, and she was given an explanation of the Nevada law on felony theft.
The laws governing “abandoned property” and “finders-keepers” vary from state to state, but in Nevada the law says that money (cash, tickets, chips) that you “find” in a casino belongs to the casino and you can be charged with felony theft if you take it. Although the casino usually does not prosecute in cases with small amounts (although you might get hassled by security), this was large enough to get their attention. They asked us if we wanted to prosecute, but we declined that option. It is not like she broke into our house or car with the intention of stealing something from us. After all down through the years we have found chips, bills, and coins on a casino floor and not seeing a possible owner nearby just pocketed them. And back in the olden days, we all found silver coins in silver machine trays and considered them our bonus. We could understand the temptation, and we were sure she had no idea that what she did was against the law, although she probably knew it would have been the ethical thing to turn it into security and see if someone claimed it.
However, the casino was not going to let this go, but they did give her a choice – pay back the money (which she had already spent) or face charges. She found a way to get the money by the following Monday and the phone call was telling us we could come in and get our $1510.
It was a happy ending – and a valuable lesson. I’ve been double-checking things now every time I leave a machine!