The Nevada Gaming Control Board has ruled that a gambler who had been kicked out of a casino for theft, but sneaked back in and won a slot machine jackpot, must be paid by the casino. The board decided in a split vote on Wednesday that the Casablanca Resort & Casino in Mesquite must pay the $2,045.18 jackpot to player Rhon Wilson.

Casino-player dispute appeal

The ruling was made in a casino-player dispute appeal, which is a process where the board hears complaints from gamblers who claim they were wrongfully denied winnings by casinos. The board normally sides with the casinos, especially when the slot machines malfunction or the players violate the rules. However, in this case, the board found that Wilson was entitled to the jackpot, even though he had been trespassed from the casino seven times for failing to pay for a drink.

Nevada Gaming Board orders casino to pay jackpot to banned gambler
Nevada Gaming Board orders casino to pay jackpot to banned gambler

Trespassed player wins three jackpots

Wilson had re-entered the casino several times after being banned, and won jackpots on three occasions over several months. The casino paid him the first two times, but refused to pay him the third time, arguing that he was not a lawful patron and had no right to gamble or win. The casino also claimed that Wilson had used a fake ID and a different player’s card to conceal his identity.

Board member dissents

The board’s hearing officer, who reviewed the case, recommended that Wilson be paid the jackpot, citing a previous court ruling that held that trespassing does not invalidate a gambling contract. The board agreed with the recommendation, except for board member George Assad, a retired Las Vegas Municipal Court judge, who dissented. Assad argued that Wilson had committed theft by obtaining services without paying, and that he should not benefit from his illegal conduct.

Policy debate expected

The decision is expected to spark a policy debate over whether people who commit misdemeanors should be allowed to collect casino winnings. The board is scheduled to conduct a regulatory workshop on Oct. 24, and the topic of trespassed players winning money is likely to be addressed. The board may consider revising its regulations to clarify the rights and obligations of both casinos and players in such situations.


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