Nevada reaps $35M in 5 years from unclaimed casino winnings
December 27, 2016
LAS VEGAS — Nevada has reaped more than $35 million over the last five years from gamblers who forget or don't care to cash in winning slot and video machine tickets at Nevada casinos, state officials said.
With coin-based slots a thing of the past, machine-dispensed tickets are the new currency for players who need to then take them to casino cages or automated kiosks similar to an ATM to be exchanged for cash.
Under a state law passed in 2011, the Nevada Gaming Control Board directs winnings that aren't claimed within about six months. The state general fund gets 75 percent of the revenue, and casinos get 25 percent.
In fiscal year 2016, there were almost $12 million worth of abandoned tickets, the Las Vegas Sun reported. From that, the state received $8.78 million. The rest went back to casinos.
Officials with MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment, Station Casinos and Boyd Gaming said casinos have provisions to handle damaged tickets, if they're legible, and even to replace lost or stolen tickets.
Mary Hynes, director of public affairs at MGM Resorts, said it helps if a customer has a company loyalty card that tracks play and winnings. If not, it's more complicated, but not impossible.
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Depending on the amount of the ticket, casinos might check records or review video footage.
"If we find a voucher, we will try to reconnect with its rightful owner — typically if it's at least $10 or more," Hynes said. "Sometimes people leave them in the machine, and we find them and we do try to send it to them."
Casinos report to the state the total of the funds left behind — not the values of individual abandoned tickets.
The Las Vegas Strip generated the most money from tickets in 2016, at a little more than $7 million. Downtown Las Vegas and Washoe County found between $900,000 and $1 million.