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A found ticket story14 September 2009
Thanks for the kind words about my columns.
Each state has its own found property laws, but as a general rule I think it is safe to say that any money you find should be turned in to the casino. In some states, abandoned money is considered casino property. If the casino can't reunite the money with its owner, the money is donated to charity.
I'm sure the statute of limitations has expired by now, so I will admit to playing with found money. I was playing video poker at Treasure Island. I was not having much luck and the bill acceptor on my machine was acting up, so a slot attendant offered to go to the change booth to exchange my bills for tokens. While she was gone, the player next to me also had a run of bad luck.
He got up and stormed away after letting loose with a particularly colorful set of expletives. In his haste, he left behind about $15 in tokens. I looked around to see if I could see him, but he was gone. I waited for a few minutes to see if he would come back, but he didn't.
My lucky day, as your dad said. I scooped up the tokens, played them in my machine and had such a run of good luck that I never needed the tokens the slot attendant fetched for me.
This may be a rationalization to justify doing something wrong, but back in the days of coin machines I didn't have any qualms about picking up a few coins or playing off a few credits I had found because it was very unlikely that a player would bother coming back for such a small amount. It the amount was about 20 times the denomination of the machine or more, I alerted a slot floorperson.
Unlike coins, today's tickets could conceivably be matched with their true owners. Because of that possibility, I suggest turning in all found tickets.
As for the security guard's actions, I certainly think she overreacted. Your dad did not deserve to be treated like someone who spent his day walking the slot aisles looking for money left behind. A simple explanation about what he should have done would have sufficed.
That said, I think if the first security guard knew what your dad was doing, he should have advised him to turn in the ticket. And if there was any indication of the amount on the ticket, your dad should have turned it in after he saw that it was worth more than a few dollars.
Thanks for sharing your story.
Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.
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