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Was this hand-pay procedure correct?

16 March 2009

Recently at Harrah's New Orleans, I witnessed a $10,000 payout on a dollar video poker machine and the protocol for the payout was strange in my estimation.

A husband and wife were playing one dollar, max bet 10 play video poker. The 4 deuces were dealt on the first line and held for $10,000 pay. The two pay people came over then a few minutes later a couple of more came over. It seems that the husband's player's card was in the machine . . . he put the original money in the machine . . . but they were taking turns hitting the deal button . . . but because she had hit the button which brought up the jackpot win, she was issued the payout using her social security number. The couple questioned the protocol and were told that it had to be that way and it was reviewed on the security camera.

Is this normal in casinos for hand-pay wins? Or was Harrah's just being "anal"?

Kathy

Dear Kathy,

I don't know all of the regulations for issuing the IRS paperwork for slot jackpots for $1,200 and up — and I daresay some casinos don't know all of them either — but it seems to me that Harrah's acted properly.

The player's card is irrelevant. It had nothing to do with the bet or payoff. Besides, the player's card could be leftover from some prior player.

I think the person who funded the spin is also irrelevant. Consider this situation: You find a machine with three credits on it. You bet them all on a spin and hit the jackpot. Can you tell the casino that they should try to find the person who left the credits on the machine and give him the W-2G?

The only person who matters is the person who pressed the Spin button. He or she will get the W-2G. If that person is part of a team, there is additional IRS paperwork the team can file to apportion the winnings among the team members. But the casino isn't interested in the player's life story. The player who pressed the Spin button gets the paperwork and is the player of record.

I say "player of record" because I remember an incident at a Las Vegas casino. A family from Arizona (I think) was playing there, including a son who was over 18 but under 21. He hit a jackpot on the machine he was playing. He was denied the jackpot because the minimum age to gamble in Nevada is 21. The age is 18 in the state that the family lived in and they didn't know Nevada's age was higher.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
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 reply to every question.

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