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Best of John Robison

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Ask the Slot Expert: A slot ticket scam?

11 March 2015

I put a slot voucher for $12.40 into a slot last night and the slot sucked it in but did not acknowledge it in the credits. I had a slot attendant open the slot and my ticket was not there, so she brought up some kind of message on the screen that said the last ticket that went in was only 10 cents. She slammed the slot shut and stomped off.

I yelled, "But it took my ticket."

She said, "Yeah, right and kept going."

I felt like she thought I was trying to scam $12. I would not compromise my integrity for $12.

I left the casino, not because I was ready to leave, but because I was embarrassed.

This reminds me of a problem I had a few years ago after my local water company and another water company in New Jersey was bought by a third water company, which was from another state. The records got mixed up as they were imported by the new company and somehow I got associated with a delinquent account from the other water company they bought and got reported to a collections agency.

Talk about an industry with poor customer service! I told them my water account had a different account number than the one they listed on their payment notice - even a different format - and my account was current. I said that I didn't have anything to do with the delinquent account. They said I had to get my water company to correct the error.

My water company could find no record of the account. After reporting that to the collections agency, the phone rep said that someone must have stolen my identity and I should report it to the police and then she hung up on me.

I finally got the situation straightened out when a rep at my water company was aware that they had purchased two New Jersey water companies and found the delinquent account in the second company's data. Mystery and problem solved.

I understand that many of the people calling the collections agency claim that they don't owe the amount requested, but still sometimes the caller is right and there is a mistake.

The slot floorperson who "helped" you could have given much better service. She could have explained that she is not able to open the cashbox, so she can't physically see the last ticket that was redeemed. She could have explained that she could pull up a log of tickets redeemed and the log shows that the last ticket was 10 cents. Instead of assuming you were trying to scam the casino, she could have assumed that you had made a mistake.

Ticket systems are well tested and extremely reliable. Is it possible that you were mistaken about the value of the ticket? I know I sometimes get confused when I have a couple of tickets in my wallet and put the wrong ticket in a machine.


At Empire City Racino I recently won $1,000 on a Wheel of Fortune machine with a $3 bet and was given a W-2G. I thought it was a $600 threshold on a $1 bet.

The cashier told me that a tax form was given on any win in which you receive 300 times the bet.

Could you please explain?

In honor of the newish Batman slot machine on some slot floors, I ask the following question: When is a casino not a casino?

Answer: When it's run by the lottery.

When a casino is run by a state's lottery, the W-2G rules for lotteries applies and not those for Class III slot machines.

According to the instructions for Form W-2G, the form is required when you win $600 or more in a lottery and the winnings are at least 300 times the amount of the wager.

You're both partially right. You had the right dollar threshold and the cashier had the right ratio.

Your win of $1,000 is over the $600 threshold, and it represents over 300 times your $3 bet, so you won yourself a tax form in addition to your grand.

This win would not have triggered a tax form in a corporate casino, where the threshold is $1,200 or more. A few days ago the IRS proposed lowering the threshold to $600. The proposal is currently in the 90-day comment period.


I wanted to know your thoughts on the impact (if any) of online games that are free, such as MyVegas, Goldfish Casino, Doubledown Slots, downloads for iPhones, etc. on casino revenue.

For example, I myself play many online free games. I find that I can get my "casino fix" without leaving my home and can still enjoy many of the same games.

Do you think this impacts casino revenue in any great way?

I know myself, I don't go nearly as often as I used to since the paybacks are getting so laughable. I find playing for 30 minutes online a better, cheaper, easier way to get that "fix."

Based on the disappointing results for online gaming in New Jersey, I don't think online games will have any effect on casino revenue.

Playing at home is no substitute for going to the casino. Part of the fun of going to the casino is strolling through the casino finding the new games. And part of the unpleasantness of going to the casino is finding out your favorite game is gone. The sights and sounds in your living room, moreover, can't compete with the sights and sounds of the casino.

For me and many others, nothing compares with going to the casino. I've played in some of New Jersey's online casinos for free, but I've never opened a real money account. It's fun to play the same games as in the casino, but I've found it's impossible to get a cocktail waitress in my living room.


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
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