I’ve been thinking a lot about the case Bob Dancer mentioned at the beginning of this episode of Gambling With an Edge, in which a Colorodo casino recently had their customer ARRESTED and PROSECUTED for for simply playing some unused credits left on a slot machine.

This article from KDVR.com gives more details about the case and many more like it. In the past five years, 728 casino patrons in Black Hawk and Central City, and 202 more in the Cripple Creek area have been cited or arrested under Colorado Statute 12-47.1-823(1)(c). According to this statute any money, casino chips or slot credits accidentally left or dropped by someone in the casino becomes the property of that casino. So if you reach down and pick up that $5 chip you found on the ground and try to cash it in, these evil geniuses will say that you committed “fraud” and literally treat you like a criminal–even going so far as to have you arrested.

I mean, these fools seem to have no idea where their money comes from. Aside from the fact that it REALLY isn’t the casino’s money until it’s stuck in that slot machine or lost on that table—which will probably happen eventually if it’s a customer who picks up that chip–even if those unclaimed funds do legally belong to the casino, who cares? How does the management not understand that they are in the business of providing customer service?

Even if the average gambler has some kind of compulsion driving him to visit a casino on a regular basis, they always need a reason to choose one gambling spot over the next– maybe the food tastes better, or they get more attention from the cocktail waitress, whatever it is, everyone wants to go where they’re treated like a VIP (or at least, I don’t know, like a normal human being?). Most people don’t just blindly spend money without believing that they’re getting something in return. It’s customer service 101. And this rule applies more than ever to the casino industry because most of their customers are just lighting their money on fire. The only thing they can really expect in exchange is some kind of service or entertainment.

It’s not surprising that the reporters’ efforts to find out the details of these arrest records and citations were pretty much stonewalled at every turn. Most of the records were incomplete or marked “confidential,” so there is no way to verify how many of the hundreds of people who’ve been harassed, cited or arrested were intentionally committing some kind of fraud, and how many were just REGULAR customers at these money pits. I’m sure a few were probably such great customers that they’d dumped all their own money before they happened upon what they thought was a bit of good luck.

This whole situation proves my theory that casinos don’t see their patrons as customers at all. We are just dollar signs to them, and the moment run out of money we become completely expendable. They know that they don’t have to try that hard to keep people coming back because of the conveniently addictive quality of their product. I guess they rely on the fact that every day, brand new dollar signs come of age to replace the old ones who’ve been sucked dry.  Still, that’s no excuse for branding some of them as criminals.

From a business perspective, I don’t understand why hanging onto those few forgotten slot credits is worth losing not just that one customer who was prosecuted for claiming them, but probably all of his friends, family, social network and all the people like me (and you, I hope) who are outraged that this private company keeps shamelessly chasing away the lifeblood of its own profits over petty nonsense. There’s no logical or business reason why anyone would engage in this kind of practice. It must be driven by pure, evil greed.

Please share if you agree. If you think these actions are somehow justified, I’d love to hear your comments.





2 thoughts on “Finders Keepers…but not really

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