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Ask the Slot Expert: Can casinos cap progressives?5 November 2014
Last week we had a question about finding a shirt with Bally's Quick Hit logo for the reader's husband. I wrote that I wasn't aware of Bally's ever making Quick Hit logo shirts for a promotion and asked readers if they knew of a source for the shirts.
A number of readers wrote to say that the logo image is very easy to find online (just Google "Quick Hit logo") and that a custom T-shirt store could make a shirt for her.
I didn't suggest making her own shirt because I'm sure that Bally's has all the legal protections possible for its artwork.
Before any progressive reaches its cap, the casino takes a small percentage of each bet and adds it to the progressives. If the long-term payback for the paytable is 95 percent without the progressives and the casino adds 1 percent of each bet to the progressive meters, the machine is really a 96 percent machine from the casino's point of view. For the player, the long-term payback on the machine keeps rising until the progressives reach their caps. At this point, the long-term payback has reached its maximum value and the machine goes back to being a 95 percent machine from the casino's point of view.
The casino does get to keep the pennies per bet it would otherwise have added to the progressive meters, but I don't see it as stealing from the players. The casino could run the same machines without the progressives. The progressives give the players a chance to win a little bit more.
I agree with you that the casino should not cap progressives, but the times I've seen a capped progressive it was very unlikely that the progressive would not be hit before hitting the cap.
An invitation to slot directors: Tell us why you have caps on progressives.
As for a casino's claim that it has the best anything — that's just puffery. Every business can claim that it has the best without any proof. If it claimed it was better than another, then it would have to be able to prove it.
For example, I have the best slot column. But I'm surely not going to say that it's better than John Grochowski's!
You're right, it's not fair. But the tax code is not filled with fairness. It's filled with favors.
The IRS sort of believes that no one can win playing the slots — but that doesn't mean that it won't go after people who it thinks have not claimed enough winnings — so if it let players claim net winnings on Form 1040, no one would claim anything.
Another injustice: Gambling winnings — but not gambling losses — are included in your Adjusted Gross Income, which is used to phase out certain credits and deductions. You could lose out on a credit or deduction even though you lost money in total at the casino.
Casinos have discussed raising the $1,200 W-2G threshold with the IRS, but I haven't heard of them discussing the tax treatment of winnings and losses. They don't have any skin in this game. It's purely a problem for the players, not for the casinos.
Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert™, at email@example.com. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.
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