Ticket Troubles

Having a ticket from a Las Vegas Sportsbook feels more and more old-school every year. With the proliferation of online betting offshore and mobile app betting now in Las Vegas, a good percentage of bets are now made in the virtual world. Having a receipt for a bet that you must retain is something of a responsibility these days and, as that saying roughly translated goes, “things happen”.

If you bet frequently in Las Vegas you may eventually end up losing or misplacing a ticket. It happens more then people imagine and when it does your only recourse is to immediately go to the book in question and tell them about it. Acting fast helps prevents anyone who may have found your ticket from cashing it providing they didn’t act even faster and beat you to the sports book. If the game has yet to be played it is wise to go to the book and explain that the ticket is lost, that way they’ll be able to lock it out which renders it uncashable without supervisor involvement. Sports books are legally under no obligation to assist with a lost ticket but we’ve yet to hear of one that won’t. It’s just bad business to tell a customer that it’s their tough luck and lose the player over it.

Your best safeguards against having problems if you do lose a ticket are to:
-take photos of your tickets right after you bet
-use a players card when you bet

If you do neither and lose the ticket you will have a tougher time than need be when making your claim. Either way, you will have to go to the book and fill out a lost ticket form. If you can recall what you bet on, the amount you bet and the approximate time you made the wager then they will most likely be able to locate the ticket in the system and put a hold on the proper one. You then have to wait until the ticket expires. If no one has shown up to try and cash the ticket then you have the first claim to it and they’ll process your payout soon after. Some places are getting annoyed with processing lost ticket claims for insignificant amounts and have implemented fees for each claim. The Rio requires $25 be paid for each ticket claim filed. This eliminates a good chunk of the requests they’d receive plus they may never have to cash those small lost tickets that eventually win. The Evil Empire strikes again.

These days it can take a while to go through the process. Tickets used to have a 30-day or 60-day expiration period. Many years ago I left 11 tickets in a shirt pocket, forgot about them and then did laundry. Those 11 washed away tickets amounted to over $5,000 worth of bets. I went through the lost ticket claim process, was given a receipt for the claim and at the end of the 60 days got paid for the winners. I have gone through this a handful of times over the years and have always been paid. Longest period waited was 120 days.

Today there are a number of books where the tickets expire after one year. That’s a long time to wait to get paid but that’s the way it works. If you used a players card you MAY be able to expedite the process but that would be at the books discretion. They can make you wait the full 365 days if they choose. The range of possible expiration periods is 30 days (state mandated minimum amount allowed) to 1 year. The Caesars group uses 1 year while on the other end, Jerry’s Nugget uses just 30 days. 30 days is just too brief a period and they do get more than their fair share of
expired claims but they don’t seem to want to change it.

Which brings us to another related ticket trouble –

Expired tickets can technically be denied payment but unless the sports book has it in for you, they usually get handled without a hitch. A couple times I’ve been told that my expired ticket would not be honored but both times eventually worked it out. If refused payment you should always press the issue and give Gaming a call. If the amount involved is $500 or more then it’s actually the book who is obligated to do the notification if you state that you dispute their decision. First things first though. Let a supervisor know you feel slighted and would like Gamings opinion. Just the thought of having to deal with an inquiry usually gets the sportsbook to acquiesce and pay off.

Nevada Regulation 22.150 says, “Each book shall adopt, conspicuously display at its licensed premises, and adhere to written, comprehensive house rules governing wagering transactions with patrons.” Michael Shackelford of the WizardOfOdds believes that many books do not fulfill this mandate when it comes to posting expiration policies “conspicuously” and that if put to it they would have to pay due to the rules not being properly posted. It’s an idea worth socking away in the unlikely event a book won’t pay.

Here those photos would really pay off if you didn’t use a players card. The way it works is pretty much the same as for a lost ticket. A “hold” will be put on the ticket in question with notes that the ticket has been reported stolen. If someone comes to claim it they will have to deal with the sportsbook on the issue. If reasonable proof was provided that you made the bet like a picture
of the ticket or your players card number on it then the claimer will have a tough time cashing.

A couple books have foolishly used the stolen ticket story to lock out winning players tickets and force them to show ID. This may be done because of a refusal to use a players card at the time the bet was made or because the player used another players card when the bet was made. The claim of another player having made a stolen ticket claim is a fabrication on the sports books part. They are simply trying to force the player to show ID. This can cause a problem if the bettor does not want their identity known. Again, it’s a matter better dealt with by Gaming and that threat usually gets things “figured out” in short order. It’s one thing to lie to the patron about a stolen ticket claim being filed by someone and quite another to make that same false claim to Gaming. The sports book is bluffing. Call them on it.

Tickets carried around for months in a wallet can fade to the point that no information can be taken from it. It’s rare that the entire ticket becomes useless but I’ve seen it happen. These almost have to be treated as a lost ticket if that’s the case so recreating the bet, amount, date and time of the wager may be necessary for the book to verify things.

“Tickets go as written”. In most books you’ll see this rule posted somewhere along with maybe a sign at the window advising to check your tickets for accuracy. High volume places like the Westgate usually have these notices posted all over. Gaming regulations pretty much parrot this premise and in just about all instances the written ticket must be honored. I have never seen it pressed by the player in the case of a gross past-posting but I have in the case of a so-called bad line.

Without question the book will have to pay even if they goofed and posted a line different than what they intended. A team favored by 11 points is input incorrectly and now they are getting 11 points. This type of thing happens from time to time and some players relish in sticking it to the books knowing the house has to pay it off. The problem comes when it’s time to cash. The casino may have no leverage as far as the paying of the ticket goes but they do as far as the players ability to bet in their sports book going forward. Insisting on cashing a bad-line ticket will almost
certainly get you barred from betting there and possibly 86ed from the property. You can hardly blame the house for tossing someone over something like that. They have the right to exclude patrons from their establishment for no specified reason and since they really have the worst of it when it comes to the bad lines situation, making sure it’s the last bet you make vs them is most likely going to be the proverbial other shoe dropping – right on the player.

All tickets can be mailed in for payment and have specific instructions on the reverse for the process. It takes some time and you end up with a check from the casino for your winnings. I know people who skip the step about sending it Registered Mail, which isn’t the smartest move. Turns out that sending them in by Registered Mail has it’s downside too like when postal employees, on the lookout for exactly these type of mailings, decide that the odds are good that a valuable ticket is in that piece of Registered Mail addressed to Auditing. The theft by postal employees of $9400 in tickets is what happened in 2012 to an out-of-towner who mailed in his winning tickets to the Golden Nugget.


Apparently this is something that has been going on in various ways for years and it’s usually because the envelopes are one way or another recognizable by postal employees. Following the exact instructions and sending these in using Registered Mail is supposed to guarantee some kind of security but it may just make it easier for a thief to locate a ticket. If you really want to be sure your tickets get back to the book then do like the bookies to this day still do. Send your “package” using FedEx.

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