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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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No room at the inn?

3 April 2006

John,

I have one more story on Harrah's. My bowling team is bowling at our state tournament in Topeka, KS in late April. I am a lowly Gold level member. I went to the website to see about rooms for that weekend. The website said there weren't any rooms for that weekend. My teammates said I should call, so I did, and was told again there were no rooms.

The rest of my teammates are Platinum members. One of them called and was given a room and told that there were plenty available. The other two members called and were also told that it was no problem. One member even reserved a room for his wife so I could have a room. No problem.

The least Harrah's could have done was tell me that they reserved weekend rooms for the bigger players and not for lowly Gold members.

Just wanted to vent a little.

Thanks a lot,
Greg

Dear Greg,

Every casino company, not just Harrah's, holds rooms for premium players.

It's unfortunate that you experienced the different treatment afforded to different levels of players and felt like a second-class citizen. I'm not sure that being told that rooms were available for Platinum members only would have really made you feel better.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


How do you read a win/loss statement from Harrah's casino?

I just had my taxes done and they used the win figure from the W-2G column, which showed I had won $17,000, which was right in W-2Gs. Then later they deducted a loss of only $2,000, which was in parentheses, which left me $15,000 to the good and I happen to know there is no way I walked out with that much last year. The $2,000 that was in the parentheses seems more like what the total for all year would have been. A total loss of the W-2Gs plus $2,000.

How are these statements read?

Thanks.

The tax treatment of slot winnings is needlessly complicated and unfair, but with the deficit growing by leaps and bounds, I wouldn't expect Congress to do anything about it.

I think the fairest treatment is to declare your overall win on your 1040, which is probably going to be less than the sum of your W-2Gs. The problem you run into is that the IRS can match wins but not losses. When their income-matching program checks that you reported all of your W-2Gs, the number on your form will be too low and the program will think that you didn't.

In any case, how do you know you didn't walk out with $15,000? Did you really give back everything you won plus an additional $2,000? If you have your own records — and you should — you can use those to justify greater losses. Otherwise, I think you're stuck with this statement.

I suggest you call Harrah's and ask them if you're reading the statement correctly. Also tell them that you're pretty sure your net was lower than what they reported and provide any details you can about what you lost and when. It's always possible they made a mistake when they generated your statement.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


A comment for your last Harrah's column. Our casino has one of the major slot accounting and MVP systems in the country but they have, since day one, not been able to provide us with "follow-me" points. It's an irritant both for the casino and the customer because it actually interferes with doing fair and consistent comps. We're looking to make a change in MVP software soon that will cover that problem (or so we've been told).

I remember many years ago the Desert Inn upgraded their players club software and one feature that was lost was "follow-me" points. I complained to the slot director. He agreed that it was unfortunate that an upgrade took away a desirable feature, but he said that every coin was still being counted even though the countdown didn't follow the player. I did an experiment and verified that every coin was indeed counted.

I infer that your system does not count every coin because you said that it "interferes with doing fair and consistent comps." I thought having to complete a point to get credit for play had gone the way of the change people on the slot floor. A following countdown is nice, but not really necessary. Counting every coin played is a must, though.

John


Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at slotexpert@comcast.net. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't send a reply to every question. Also be advised that it may take several months for your question to appear in my column.

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