What Happens to Uncashed Slot Machine Tickets in Las Vegas?

The Las Vegas Sun published a story recently about what happens to unused slot machine tickets and video poker machine tickets. It was a fascinating story, but one that means a windfall for the state of Nevada.

The story discussed machine-dispensed tickets that were lost, forgotten, or simply uncashed. A generation ago, gamblers were paid in coins or dollars for their winnings. Over the years, electronic gaming machines (EGMs) pay using the machine-dispensed tickets, which can be cashed out at the cashier window. Some casinos have machines which scan the tickets and pay out through automation.

Machine-Dispensed Gaming Machine Tickets

The gaming machine tickets are a way to avoid hard currency, which is cumbersome and requires more staff to handle. Electronic tickets also make the problem of record keeping and auditing easier, while assuring the casino cannot engage in money laundering or skimming off the top.

Machine-dispensed tickets have another advantage for the casino: a certain percentage of the tickets simply are never cashed out. Money which rightfully belongs to the gambler simply never makes it back to their bankroll. It is like the gambler lost on slots row. That does not mean that the casino won, though, or at least as much as you would think.

Nevada Assembly Bill 129

Under Nevada law, the tickets expire within 180 days or a date which is set by the individual casino — whichever is shorter. Due to a 2011 bill introduced by Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, the state’s General Fund receives 75% of the money which goes uncashed. Assembly Bill 129 stipulates that the casinos retain 25% of the lost winnings.

That has accounted for $35 million for the General Fund in the 5 years since AB 129 was passed. An average of $7 million a year is collected by the state, simply because gamblers forget to cash out their tickets (or lose them).

Why Tickets Go Uncashed

It is a reminder to gamblers they need to cash their tickets before leaving the casino. Local gamblers might decide to save their tickets from multiple sessions and cash them at one time. These gamblers would be wise to make a trip to the cashier each time.

Tourists do the same thing. They might keep all their slots tickets until their last session of gaming. Visitors to Las Vegas in particular are more prone to be in a hurry at the end of their holiday or business trip, so it is wisest to make a trip to the cashier after each gaming session.

Always Use Your Loyalty Card

Casinos recommend that players sign up for advanced slots clubs, because it allows the bursars to track down the players who own lost tickets. Mary Hynes, the Public Affairs Director for MGM Resorts International, said that Mlife loyalty card is recommended for all slots and video poker players.

Hynes said, “If the guest has an Mlife loyalty card, then we can trace it. Which is good reason to have such a card. If they don’t have a card, it becomes more complicated.

Slots Cards and Comps

Knowledgeable gamblers know the first thing they should do at a casino is sign up for the slots club or loyalty card. Slots cards build up points every time a player gambles, so long as they slide their card into the machine before they make a bet. As their activity builds up, they unlock comps.

Comps are much like credit card rewards. Comps offer advantages to players, whether it is free hotel rooms, free meals, free tickets to shows, or even cash.

Whatever the case, the slots card helps lower the overall house edge of gambling on slots row. Nowadays, the slots cards also help casinos track down the owners of lost tickets. All of it helps players go home with more of their winnings, or at least more of their own bankroll.

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on BestOnlineCasinos.com, USPokerSites.com, and LegalUSPokerSites.com

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