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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: Show me your ID, please!

13 November 2015

Dear Mark: I have asked around, but nobody can give me a direct answer. If you get a taxable jackpot, will an expired driver's license be sufficient as an ID? Mary P.

Whenever someone wins $1,200 or more, an ID is required for tax purposes because Uncle Sam claims a piece of the action. Thus, casinos today require proper identification (e.g. driver’s license, state-issued ID, military ID or passport) before you are paid your rightful winnings. Additionally, your identification must also have your photo on it. Sorry, Mary, but your Costco card isn't going cut it. If you can board an airplane flight with your ID, then it will probably be valid enough to claim your jackpot.

Now if your good fortune lines up three treasure chests, and you cannot produce a valid form of identification, the windfall is still yours. The casino will photograph you and hold your loot in the cashier’s cage until you come back with some bona fide ID.

Likewise, when the casino examines your identification it makes sure you are legally of age to play. The minimum age for gambling varies from state to state, but underage gamblers will NOT be paid if they hit a jackpot. Besides being the law in all gaming jurisdictions, denial of a jackpot to a minor has been challenged and upheld in the courts.

Since a minor cannot claim a jackpot, or dish it off to someone of age to split it with later – the eye in the sky is always watching – the jackpot is never paid and the illegitimate winnings are added to the casino’s revenue.

Besides producing a valid photo ID, you will also be asked by the casino for a valid social security or tax identification number. If you decide screw that, “I’ve got my rights,” then plan on 25 - 30% being withheld depending on whether the jackpot is more or less than $5,000.

Throughout my reply, Mary, I used the word ‘valid.’ Unfortunately, an expired driver’s license will be your roadblock from collecting your jackpot. Nevertheless, your money awaits you at the cashier’s cage, and a quick trip to the DMV for a license renewal should solve your problem.

Dear Mark: Does a slot machine recognize a difference between insertion of currency and credit slips? It seems I win more when I insert bills over using credit slips from my past winnings. Dan L.

A slot machine does NOT re-program the random number generator to affect the outcome based on cash or credits played.

The slot machine program within does not give one iota about the source of the money. A dollar credit that came from your inserting a ticket has just as much chance to win as a dollar’s worth of credits that came from your inserting a $1 bill.

Yes, Dan, there is some computer programming within the bill acceptor, but, it is to validate the authenticity of the currency and to communicate to the slot machine the amount of the currency/credit inserted.

Ultimately, all the slot machine program determines is that the player still has credits available on the meter when the spin button is hit.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “People's hobbies (gambling) are more their measure than are their jobs. Never mind what they are forced to do, like fight wars or make a living or embrace the king's religion. It is what do they choose to do in their spare time, if they have any?” – Robert Byrne, Byrne's Book of Great Pool Stories (1995)
Recent Articles
Best of Mark Pilarski
Mark Pilarski

As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.
Mark Pilarski
As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.