Dear Mark: I was asked to leave a casino by security for, if you can believe this, playing someone else’s left over $12 worth of credits that they had left on a slot machine and didn’t cash out. Although not banned for life, I was “rudely” told it was against the law, made me return the $12, and told not to come back for 30 days. You have got to be kidding me!! What ever happened to "finders keepers, losers weepers?” Matt N.
For starters, Matt, the casino made you give back the money simply because it didn’t belong to you. "Finders keepers, losers weepers" is not a defense for taking credits discovered on a slot machine. You are basing your newly found booty on the premise that when something is abandoned, whoever finds it can claim it. Unfortunately, within the casino walls, this raises ethical and legal challenges.
On the casino floor, credits left on machines do NOT belong to the person who finds them, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they belong to the casino either. Casinos, as well as some gaming jurisdictions, have specific policies on how to handle abandoned credits. The children’s rhyme, “finders keepers, losers weepers” may apply in children’s games but doesn’t pass muster in gambling establishments.
Like a pair of sunglasses left at a blackjack game, in the joints where I worked, we regarded credits left on a slot machine specifically as “lost property” and did our best to find their rightful owner. Today, especially if one uses his or her Player’s card, it is relatively easy to track the previous player. Nevertheless, a tip to you and other slot-playing patrons: before you walk away from any slot machine, don’t forget to press the cash-out button.
As for you being 86’d from the casino, well, that might have been a bit over the top. I have never heard of any leftover-credits-playing player given the heave-ho. That said, that doesn’t mean there are not swindlers who make a living scavenging the millions lost each year by gamblers who forget their stored credits (winnings).
The pretender who purposively circles the casino floor looking for orphan credits on a slot machine, or even change on the floor for that matter, can warrant the dreaded permanent 86 for making a full-time occupation of cruising the casino eyeing easy pickings. That said, I will buy that you weren’t a credit conniver looking for an easy score.
So, playing slot manager for just a moment, my casino management style would not have even warranted a wrist slap. I was one to operate more in the spirit of the law, not the letter of, although, I must acknowledge that every gaming supervisor will handle your scenario their own way.
All I would have told you was that the next time you find credits remaining on the machine, you should inform some slot floor personnel, and then I would have gone on my merry way. Had we found the previous player, I just would have credited him or her $12.
Now let’s look at the positive here, Matt, of which there is one. For the next thirty days, you won’t be playing on a machine that has a house edge of up to 20%.
Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “I have seen a pregnant woman stand at a 21 game, oblivious to labor pains, until we thought we were going to become midwives, and leave only when we summoned an ambulance.” – Harold S. Smith Sr., I Want to Quit Winners (1961)