Published on: September 29, 2023 at 08:03 pm.
Last updated on: October 24, 2023, 10:32 pm.
Editor’s note: “Vegas Myths Busted” posts new entries every Monday, with a bonus Flashback Friday release. Today’s post in our ongoing series was originally published on April 7, 2023.
Last week, TikTok creator @ileana.justine posted a video documenting what she called her favorite casino game: “I walk around and collect all the leftover money people leave on their machines and see how much I can get.”
After half an hour of searching for abandoned cash vouchers, I got $7.28. The video received 4 million views and a possible indictment in the future.
This practice, called “ticketing,” is not new. In the era of analog slots, it was called silver mining since it was the quarters, not the tickets, that determined the payday. At the time, you could be expelled and even permanently banned from casinos, which determined the penalty on a case-by-case basis.
Nowadays, many jurisdictions that allow gaming consider it either a misdemeanor or felony theft, depending on the value of the vouchers.
So far, @ileana.justine is still posting TikToks, not license plates, in prison. But in 2004, a Colorado man was reportedly convicted of misdemeanor fraud for using a 76-cent credit left by a previous slot machine user. AJ Werling claims he entered his bill for $20, not realizing the balance was already there.
Werling was fined $500 and forced to perform 24 hours of community service.
“It was a nightmare,” he said. KDVR-TV/Denver In 2017. “I am not a criminal. It’s ridiculous. It’s 76 cents… I still have to deal with… having to review what happened with jobs, apartments, anything that requires a background check. I must reveal why I have a gambling theft conviction on my record.
As for @ileana.justine, she reassured her fans with the following comment: “No one needs to worry. I have asked my lawyer to verify the legality. “It wasn’t illegal in the state I was in.”
Finders Keepers is not the law
This is not common in Nevada, but the state’s district attorney has previously filed criminal cases based on theft of gambling tickets.
One of two laws applies. NRS 205.0832 prohibits anyone who “takes control of lost, lost, or misdelivered property of another person” and “appropriates that property for his or her own use, or for the use of another person, without making reasonable efforts to notify the true owner.”
NRS 465.070 states that it is unlawful to “demand, collect, or take—or attempt to demand, collect, or take—money or anything of value at or from a gambling game…without making a wager.”
Even if a gambling ticket is abandoned at a Nevada casino, it still belongs to the person who originally put the money in, not someone who found it coming out of the slot machine. Casinos are required to keep an abandoned coupon for 90 days if a legitimate winner returns to collect it.
After that, the voucher expires and becomes unclaimed property. Under a law passed in 2011, the state’s general fund receives 75% of the profit from each abandoned ticket, which the Nevada Gaming Control Board collects quarterly. The casino keeps 25% for administrative costs.
In fiscal year 2022, Nevada players gave up $22 million in unclaimed tickets.
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