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Ask the Slot Expert: Closed casino redeems reader's slot tickets

1 April 2020

Question: My wife and I were camping at the casino in Anacortes, Washington.

On Wednesday we checked with the casino customer service desk about the possibility of their closing the casino. They didn’t know.

Well, at 2 am on Thursday they shut down the hotel and casino. That left my wife with a $300 slot ticket and me with a $50 slot ticket. We went to the hotel desk, where they phoned accounting and accounting said they would mail us the money. They took our information and we left it at that.

On Thursday afternoon we got a call from the hotel front desk that they had our checks there. Great service as we got our money before we left the campground.

We were told that when they shut down the casino at 2 am, they cleaned out all the cash machines so we could not go in there to cash in our slot tickets. Check was the only way.

You have a great column.

Answer: Thanks for the kind words about my column.

I'm glad you were able to get your money before you left. You had an advantage in already being on the property when it shut down.

As you pointed out, even though the doors may have closed, the employees still had a lot of work to do to shut down gaming operations. They had to remove all of the cash from the slot and ticket redemption machines and reconcile each machine.

Even though the casino has shut down, back-office employees may still be at work. Even though the Governor ordered non-essential businesses in Nevada to close, a news report today clarified the order. The public-facing part of non-essential businesses had to close. Back-office operations could continue as long as the social distancing guidelines were followed. If you have a slot ticket you would like to redeem, you can call the casino to see what it can do. I may do that with a slot ticket I have if the casinos have to remain closed for a long time.

One friend who works on the slot floor was finished for the day when gaming shut down in the middle of his shift. He's not going back to work until the casino reopens. Another friend, a slot supervisor at the same casino, still had to go in for his shift the next morning. When he was finished with the shut down procedures that day, he too was done until the casino reopens.

They were told that they would have health insurance until the end of April. Health officials in Nevada predicted that the state will reach the peak of Covid-19 infections in mid-April, around the same time that the governor's current order for the casinos to shut down expires. I foresee that order being extended, especially now that the federal guidelines for social distancing have been extended until at least the end of April.

It's interesting to juxtapose the pictures of the hospital in New York loading its Covid-19 fatalities into a refrigerated truck with the President implying that nurses in New York were stealing personal protective equipment and bragging about the ratings for his daily Coronavirus press briefing.

I don't know what my friends will do with no income and possibly no health insurance. They and millions of others would have less anxiety about the future if we had something like Andrew Yang's Universal Basic Income and Bernie's and Warren's Medicare for All. At least they'll be able to get insurance through Nevada's Obamacare exchange if they're not offered COBRA coverage or COBRA is too expensive, which it is certain to be.

We're starting week three of no casinos, no movie theaters, no dine-in at food outlets and voluntary isolation. I have a sure indication that this has been going on for a while. In the beginning, my cat was thrilled that I was home with him all day. He sat on my lap every time I sat down on the couch. This morning, after I got back from the supermarket, I watched some programs I had recorded. He never came to sit with me. He didn't make an appearance until it was time for dinner.

The supermarket I usually go to is finally catching up with the increased demand for some products. Last week I wrote that I was finally able to get eggs. I didn't mention that the eggs had a real funky, chemical smell to them. I suspect that they were treated with a disinfectant. The contents didn't smell; the smell was just on the shell. The smell, moreover, was gone the next day.

After not leaving the house all weekend, I hit the supermarket today, March 31, to use some coupons before they expired. The egg case today was almost back to its usual stock levels. I'm sure that's due in part to the limit on how many cartons you can buy at one time and to the fact that many people are still using the multi-month supply of eggs they bought the past few weeks. I didn't need eggs, but it was reassuring to see a nearly full case and not a completely empty one.

Like Starbucks and its suspension of reusable cups, the store does not want you to bring your reusable shopping bags now. I would recommend, however, that they put the signs prohibiting reusable bags at the entrance and not just at the checkout.

I picked up everything on my list that they had on the shelves and was on my way to check out when I saw something that stopped me in my tracks. I saw a lady with a 10% off coupon.

I muttered a few choice words and then chided myself for forgetting that I had that coupon too. I received a postcard with a number of coupons, including the 10% discount one, on it. I clipped the coupon for potatoes over a week ago, but didn't clip the 10% off coupon because I wasn't going to buy many things that day. I should have checked the postcard again before leaving this morning.

I had a number of items today, so I would save quite a bit with the discount. It was worth going home to get the coupon. I stealthily put back the items that were in containers, like milk, cream cheese, macaroni salad and canned tomatoes. But I bought the produce that I had touched.

I live within walking distance of the store, so it didn't take me long to drive home, get the coupon and return to the store. The store has a cart concierge who wipes down the handle on the cart when you take it and return it. I thought he might recognize me from 10 minutes ago, so I disguised myself by tucking in my shirt.

I refilled my cart in a fraction of the time it took me to fill it the first time. I didn't put things on the shelves as neatly as the stockers did initially, so I could tell that I was able to get the same items I had put back. An unexpected benefit of making the second trip is that the store had restocked two items that I couldn't get earlier.

Any store open to the public now has to have tape marks on the floor where customers might wait in line to help them maintain six feet of separation. When the person in front of me in the checkout line moved to the payment zone, I moved to the on-deck marker at the edge of the belt. I looked for a separator bar, but didn't see one.

Another new procedure at the store. The cashier told me that only one customer's items could be on the belt. I had to wait until she was finished with the items from the guy in front of me before putting my stuff on the belt.

I'm set for groceries for a while now. Maybe the next time I go this store will be like the other major chain in Las Vegas and have plexiglass screens separating the customers from the cashiers.

Stay home. Stay healthy.

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