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Ask the Slot Expert: Playing a Found 50-Cent Slot Ticket

28 January 2015

By John Robison, Slot Expert™

I saw a slot machine ticket on a blackjack table, picked it up and saw it was for 50 cents. I went right away to a slot machine and played it. I didn't win anything, so I walked around and waited for my buddy to finish gambling so we could leave.

I was approached by security. They asked me what I did with the ticket because they saw me take it. I told them I played it. They asked how much was on it. I said 50 cents. The security guard got my identification, then said you are reported, then walked away.

I'm nervous that I will get in trouble for this. Will I?

Columns about playing found money always generate many follow-up emails. Last week I published an e-mail from a lady who was confronted by casino personnel after playing money a fellow player had left on a machine.

I can't imagine that any casino will find it worthwhile and in its best interests to pursue any action against someone who plays a found 50-cent ticket. Would it take action against someone who played two quarters found on the carpet? Granted, there is anonymity with coins and accountability with tickets and the rightful owner of the ticket could be determined, but I can easily see someone just dropping the ticket on the table because the nearest redemption kiosk was out of order or had a long line.

I understand that the casino's procedures may be that abandoned tickets are to be returned to the casino, but it needs to exercise some common sense. Some casinos try to discourage "silver miners", people who scout the casino looking for money left on machines. Perhaps that was the casino's motivation in this instance. But you were at the casino to play and presumably don't have a history of wandering through the casino looking for money left on machines or lost tickets. After verifying the value of the ticket, the casino should drop the matter. And if it doesn't, I bet your local news or newspaper would be interested in your story.

Why is a lady who can't afford $100 and is unemployed playing the slots?

This question refers back to last week's column. A lady said she lost her bankroll for the visit, found about $100 left on a slot machine, cashed it out and played it on another machine. Now the casino wants her to pay back the money, but she said she was unemployed and couldn't afford $100.

I have a similar situation in my family. A relative struggles to make ends meet, but still visits casinos regularly. I frequently defend this relative's actions with other family members.

All the lady said in her letter was that she had lost her allotment for that visit. She didn't say how much it was. If she's like my relative, it could be as little as $5 or $10. And that's how my relative is able to go to casinos frequently. A little per visit is enough to earn reqular free-play offers and comped meals.

If the lady who wrote the letter went to the movies each week and spent $20 on the ticket and snacks, would we question how much she spent on recreation? But if the same money is lost at the casino, we say she is wasting her money despite that fact that -- at least in my relative's case -- the loss is offset somewhat with free play, free meals and other offers.

As long as the money is coming from the entertainment budget and the rent, food and other bills are paid, who are we to question how someone spends her entertainment money?

Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert™, at Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

Copyright © John Robison. Slot Expert and Ask the Slot Expert are trademarks of John Robison.


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John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots