March 30, 2011
Nevada unclaimed property, from casinos, could bring the state millions. When gamblers step into casinos, especially in Nevada, they’re looking to win big bucks. Typically, these gamblers don’t bother redeeming the low-value payout tickets dispensed from cashless slot machines or other electronic games.
However, if they cashed in those tickets each time they played, the abandoned winnings would begin to add up. Nevada state officials have not only done the math, but now they want their piece of the pie.
In a recent Las Vegas Review-Journal article titled, “Uncashed payout checks could bring millions to the state,” Assemblyman William Horne says he believes that if Nevada capitalized on all of the unredeemed vouchers, they could be generating up to $50 million in revenue each year. At this point, there is no law stating that this money should go to the state and as a result, casinos have been keeping it for themselves. Most uncashed vouchers must be redeemed within 60 days or they go directly to the casino. The casinos do, however, pay gaming taxes on unredeemed tickets.
Recently, Horne urged the Assembly Judiciary Committee to pass Bill 219, which would declare that uncashed gaming tickets are Nevada unclaimed property and subject to the state if the rightful owner is not located. The bill would allow the state to take value of the vouchers every three months.
No vote has been taken yet on the bill, but there is still quite a bit of controversy surrounding it. Gaming industry lobbyists believe that the passage of this bill would penalize the gaming industry for the innovation that has been electronic and cashless gambling. Conversely, Horne argues that this is a simple case of abandoned property and should the owner not be located, the state should take possession of it.
Last year, the state treasurer deposited a record $66 million in Nevada unclaimed property to the state general fund. In targeting property previously unaffected by unclaimed property laws, such as these unredeemed payout tickets, Nevada seeks to once again break its unclaimed property revenue record.
Stay tuned to see if this bill passes.
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