Published on: August 25, 2022, 12:17 p.m.
Last updated: August 25, 2022, 12:17 p.m.
For those who think the casino industry and government have plenty of money, this may not sit well: Nevada casino visitors let $22 million in betting slips go unclaimed in the recently concluded fiscal year, according to Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB).
It’s a problem among locals and tourists alike, and one that commonly concerns slot and video poker players and, to a lesser extent, sports bettors. They redeem tickets from casino machines, and because of an alleged coin shortage that began in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, many Nevada gaming venues are not dispensing cash from ATMs. However, physical cashiers at locations will offer coins to customers.
For example, a bettor who cashes from a slot machine at a Las Vegas casino and receives a $300.15 ticket takes the ticket to a machine on the premises. She’ll get $300 in cash, but at many gaming properties, she won’t get the 15 cents.
Under the terms of a Nevada law passed in 2011, 75 percent of unclaimed winnings go back to the state, while the other 25 percent goes back to where the cash (or coins) went unclaimed. So if a bettor doesn’t claim $100 at the Bellagio, Nevada gets $75 and MGM Resorts International keeps $25.
Growing problem… For punters
Perhaps to the delight of Nevada politicians and casino operators, the issue of unclaimed tickets isn’t going anywhere. In fact, the data suggests it’s getting worse.
Revenue collected from expired tickets has increased every year since 2012, the first year the state began collecting revenue from unclaimed tickets. At that time, the state reported $3.1 million in revenue from $4.2 million in unclaimed vouchers,” reports McKenna Ross for Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Nevada allows casino visitors six months to redeem betting slips. Other states give customers a year or three years to do so, while other states put no time limit on ticket collection.
The increasing shift to cashless gaming at some Nevada casinos could lead to an increase in unclaimed tickets, with little change. However, the coin shortage excuse is not likely to hold weight with savvy customers as the scenario is believed to have been blown out of proportion in 2020 and if the cage has coins, the machines should too. At least that’s the argument some patrons will make.
What comes from coins
In fiscal year 2022, Nevada collected $16.5 million in windfall profits from unclaimed betting slips, meaning gambling companies received $5.5 million.
That doesn’t mean operators keep the change and reserve it as profit. Cosmopolitan, M Resort and Wynn Las Vegas offer customers the option to donate change to various charities. Caesars Palace and Flamingo donate unwanted change to Meals on Wheels.
Among Nevada casino companies that distribute coins from machines, Boyd Gaming, which is one of the largest operators in the Las Vegas Valley, is a prime example.