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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Is playing a found ticket a crime?

22 June 2011

In my June 8, 2011 column, I printed a letter from Ginger, who was afraid that a casino might come after her because she found a ticket worth about $20 and played it after the rightful owner failed to claim it after 15 or so minutes. I received this letter chastising me for my reply.

"I think you acted in a reasonable manner. You gave the person a reasonable length of time to claim the ticket. No one came to claim it, so I think the ticket can reasonably be considered to be abandoned. You still should have turned in the ticket, but playing it was not a crime."

John, that is absolutely a crime. A petty crime, but a crime nonetheless because it was stealing. What your response to Ginger has done, is signal to others in casinos that if you find a lost ticket and give them a certain length of time to come back and claim it, then it's yours to spend. That was an irresponsible answer and I can't express how disappointed I am in you right now. I have read your column for a long time and have always appreciated your advice when it comes to game playing. Here's my question for you, John.... at what amount do you consider taking someone else's money to play in a machine a crime? Your response SHOULD have stopped at "You still should have turned in the ticket." That added phrase is absolutely wrong.

Ann

Dear Ann,

Well, I used the phrase "not a crime" in the colloquial sense, but since you interpreted it in a statutory sense, let's deal with it.

In many localities, property that you find will be returned to you if the rightful owner does not claim it after a reasonable length of time (I believe the precedent for this is Finders Keepers v. Losers Weepers). Granted, in these cases a disinterested party determines the length of time that is reasonable.

Ginger did not hide the ticket. She left it in plain sight. She gave the rightful owner a chance to claim his or her property. She didn't deny having found the ticket to someone who asked about it.

Still, this is not the same as finding a $20 bill on the street. The ticket was lost in a casino that, presumably, has a lost-and-found department. Furthermore, the ticket has a serial number that could possibly be used to track down the rightful owner. Ginger had other options.

Yes, she acted improperly. She should have turned in the ticket. But I don't think her actions rose to the level of criminal. Would you file charges against her?


Is playing a $20 ticket someone lost a crime? Send me your opinion at slotexpert@comcast.net.

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