Casino players in Nevada left $22 million in unclaimed cashout tickets in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2022, to expire, according to official data from the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB).
Reluctant to Cash out Cents
The data released by the NGCB showing that both the State of Nevada and casino operators make extra cash from player winnings sparked a debate around the appropriateness of cashout vouchers and why the revenue from unclaimed player winnings has been constantly on the rise since 2012.
The voucher issue arises when a casino patron cashes out its winnings from a slot machine and the winning amount is not round to the dollar but also includes cents, and then goes to cash out at a machine and only receives the dollar amount in cash while for the remaining cents receives a cashout voucher.
According to Nevada law that was passed in 2011, the state is entitled to collect 75% of any expired wagering voucher while the remaining 25% is kept by the casino licensee. And any cashout voucher in Nevada that is unclaimed within 180 days is deemed as expired.
For comparison, in New Jersey and Pennsylvania unclaimed vouchers expire after one and three years, respectively, while in other states, casino vouchers do not expire at all.
In 2012, the state reported revenue of $2.1 million on $4.2 million of unclaimed vouchers, and this revenue has been constantly rising ever since to reach $10.4 million in 2019.
During the pandemic, unclaimed voucher revenue declined bus as soon as restrictions were lifted and casino visitation numbers started to increase, unclaimed voucher revenue picked up again, jumping by 59% to $16.5 million in 2022, leaving casinos with roughly $5.5 million in extra revenue.
Reasons Remain Vague
Some argue that the reason for the ever-increasing amounts from unclaimed vouchers is that the ATMs do not dispense coins but then players can receive the coins at the cage, provided that they bother to go and cash out there.
Players, on the other side, who would rather leave their less-than-dollar value vouchers to expire than wait in line at the cage to cash out cents, believe that the practice of issuing cashout vouchers is irritating and ATMs should also dispense coins.
Industry observers and stakeholders point to reasons like limited coin operations for casinos due to the decreasing amount of coins in circulations during the pandemic or the change in the law which expanded the source of expired vouchers from slots to include some advanced table games and some sports wagering scenarios, while state regulators just shrug their shoulders as they are not entitled to collect such data from incumbents. And while some players are reluctant to wait in line to cash out cents, casinos such as Cosmopolitan, M Resort and Wynn Las Vegas allow them to donate their cashout vouchers to charities. Others like Caesars Palace and Flamingo donate unwanted change to Meals on Wheels.