Casino Wins Pay Off for the State of Nevada

by Kyle Miller

Nevada - The Silver StateThe state of Nevada has earned a nice payday thanks to unclaimed wins over the past five years.

The state of Nevada is known for casino gambling, particularly in the Las Vegas area. Visitors from around the world come to Las Vegas to enjoy their favorite casino games. From blackjack and poker to slots and more, the gaming floors of every casino are always filled with players. Gamblers come from all across the nation as well as the world to take part in gaming and entertainment. Because of this, many players go home with a nice prize thanks to hours spent at the slot machine or table games.

But have you ever wondered what happens to the jackpots that are not claimed? Believe it or not, there are prizes that go unclaimed and the state of Nevada reaps the benefits from the jackpots that players leave behind. In the last five years, the state has been able to receive over $35 million from gamblers who did not cash in their tickets for cash prizes.

Unclaimed Prizes

In the past, slot machines and video gaming machines operated with coins and coins were produced with a win. Players would walk around with a bucket that held coins that were used for game play and when a big jackpot was hit, the coins would flow out of the machine. However, with the changes in technology, such gaming machines now produce a paper ticket for wins. Players can easily enjoy a slot game and then hit the payout button to cash out their winnings or whatever is left in the machine. This ticket would then need to be taken to a machine or cashier to have actual cash in hand.

In 2011, the Nevada Gaming Control Board would begin following a new state law that would see the unclaimed winnings gathered after a six month time frame. Of the money collected, 75% would go to the state general fund while casinos would receive the remaining 25%.

For the fiscal year of 2016, the state was able to recover close to $12 million in abandoned tickets. Of this amount, the state was able to receive $8.78 million. The remainder would go to the casinos. This is an amazing amount of money and a surprise that so much goes unclaimed. One can imagine that this is s a combination of low amounts that individuals just didn’t care to claim or perhaps players were having so much fun they forgot to turn in tickets. Either way, the state and casinos profit.

Handling Damaged Tickets

One might assume that the issue would be a lost or damaged ticket. The gaming venues have policies in place to handle a damaged ticket. Boyd Gaming, MGM Resorts International, Station Casinos and Caesars Entertainment will replace lost or stolen tickets as well as take a legible ticket for a payout. MGM Resorts Director of Public Affairs, Mary Hynes, stated that it helps if the customer is someone who has a customer loyalty card as game play and winnings can be tracked.

Depending on the amount, the casino may decide to check the records or review footage of the surveillance cameras.  According to Hynes, if a voucher is found, they try to give it to the rightful owner, typically if the amount is $10 or more. Sometimes the tickets are left in the machine and the casino will try to send them to the player.

The amount of cash generated from the unclaimed tickets came from various areas. The Las Vegas Strip was able to produce $7 million in unclaimed funds while Washoe County and Downtown Las Vegas produced somewhere between $900,000 and $1 million.