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Best of John Robison

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Ask the Slot Expert: The kiosk ate my slot ticket

27 May 2015

Enjoying your articles about W2-G to be issued for $600 or over payouts.

I have a novel solution to the problem: Why not have all gamers contact their congressmen and tell them that they want slots to remain at $1,200 and tell them that they want $1,200 to be the threshold as well for horse racing, dog racing, jai alai and anything else that currently has a $600 threshold?

Also, it should be mandatory that a minimum of 15 percent be withheld from any W2-G payment for income taxes -- and if the player wants more than 15 percent withheld, the payer must comply with the request.

Considering that one of the justifications offered for lowering the threshold to $600 is that it brings the threshold for slots in line with the threshold for other gambling activities, raising the other threshold on the other activities is certainly a valid alternative. Unfortunately, lowering the threshold is really just a way to raise taxes without actually raising taxes. It is regressive because the increase does not fall on those most able to afford it. Worse, increasing the figure included in the AGI may diminish or eliminate some benefits for the taxpayer under the assumption that the taxpayer had more income when in reality the taxpayer lost money gambling.

I did a little searching and checked the instructions on the IRS website and couldn't find anything saying that players could have taxes withheld from their winnings even when it was not required. Much about when regular and backup withholding are required, but nothing about optional withholding. In any case, the casino has to be prepared to withhold 28 percent for backup withholding, so I assume players could request that today even if they provided a valid taxpayer identification number.

By the way, I'm simplifying the situation by saying that there are only two thresholds. I've just picked the thresholds for the two activities I think my readers are most likely to participate in -- slots and lotteries. There are other thresholds for racing and jai alai and there is much that could be done to simplify the thresholds.


I collected a ticket from a machine I was playing at Legends Casino in Toppenish, Washington. I went to the kiosk to cash it out and it didn't return my money. I called a worker over and she called it in. I waited 10 minutes then a different worker came with a security guard. They opened the machine and after another 20 minutes she said it said it paid me.

I said, "No, it didn't." She informed me that it was an old machine and they are trying to get a newer version, but there was nothing she could do. She said I would have to fill out a dispute form and it will have to go through whomever it is that looks at these things. I'd have to wait a week to find out their decision.

My boyfriend asked her, "Can't you just look at the cameras?"

She said, "No, they're not for that."

"Well, what are they for then?"

No reply. Then he said, "So one of you two can take the exact amount out of the machine and it will balance correctly."

She said, "No, we can't do that."

Today is a week and they said the machine was not over or under.

My questions: What are the cameras for in a casino for if not to observe money transferring all about? Is there anything I can do to get my $61.68 back?

I'm sorry to hear of your problems. I've never had a problem with a ticket redemption machine and it should be just as reliable -- and as thoroughly tested -- as an ATM.

I'm not surprised that the casino personnel wouldn't pay you for the ticket because the machine's log indicated it had paid the ticket. Moreover, they probably couldn't pay you. They most likely do not have access to the cash/coin store in the machine.

It sounds like you filed the dispute form and the casino said that the machine balanced out after it investigated. I don't see how that is possible. Even if there were some way for the bills or coins to get diverted in the machine and dispense into the belly of the machine and never make it outside to the trays, I would think that you would get at least the bills or the coins.

What are the cameras for? Their purpose is to protect the casino's bankroll by ensuring that the games are run correctly and no one is trying to cheat them. That said, in the old days, casinos used to have fixed cameras trained on the cash transaction areas -- the cage and the coin redemption booths. The ticket redemption kiosks are more mobile -- all they need is power and network communications -- so there may not be a fixed camera over each one of them. In fact, the casino floor at the Westgate in Las Vegas is currently undergoing extensive renovations, and the kiosks are moved quite frequently.

Your next step in trying to recover your money is to file a dispute with the Washington State Gambling Commission. Its address is Box 42400, Olympia, WA 98504.


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