According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB), gamblers left $22 million in unclaimed gaming vouchers during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2022.
These vouchers mainly were unclaimed winnings from slot, keno and video poker machines. However, more games are included in the unclaimed voucher thanks to a law change in 2021.
The state now counts winning tickets from sports bets and Electronic Table Games (ETGs) in the total unclaimed voucher revenue. The NCGB doesn’t separate the vouchers so there’s no specific amount for the different vouchers.
In 2011, Nevada passed a law that allows the state to keep 75% of unclaimed revenue from gaming vouchers. The casino (or another gaming operator) keeps 25% of that leftover money.
Players can claim these vouchers for Nevada gambling establishments for up to 180 days after they’re printed. This is a relatively short period. For example, New Jersey and Pennsylvania regulations allow players three years to cash in their vouchers.
Some of the unclaimed vouchers are just winning TITO (Ticket In Ticket Out) tickets that players forget to cash. While this is typical for Nevada casinos, the amount of money from unclaimed gaming vouchers has been on the rise for a decade.
Michael Lawton, senior economic analyst for the NGCB told the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
“It has been pretty interesting to witness the growth recorded in the expired wagering voucher fee payments from $7.2 million in FY13 (the fiscal year 2013) to what was collected in FY22 (the fiscal year 2022).”
Lawton, says the increase in unclaimed tickets coincides with increased slot machine revenue for Nevada casinos for the past decade. Unclaimed vouchers from Nevada casinos should continue to rise for this reason and more.
Reasons unclaimed tickets should continue to increase in Nevada
Gambling in Nevada continues to increase as the country returns to normalcy after the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic. In September, Nevada casinos won more than $1 billion in gaming for the 19th consecutive month.
Record-breaking slot machine win
Last year Nevada casinos won a record $9.8 billion from slot machine play. This trend is continuing as slot machine win for casinos is up more than 18% over the past 12 months according to the most recent Gaming Revenue report from the NCGB.
The natural assumption based on trends from the past decade is that more slot machine play will lead to more unclaimed vouchers. However, there are a couple more reasons this could continue to increase moving forward.
More ETGs and non-traditional games
Casinos have been slowly adding ETGs for the past five years or so. The number of ETGs, Stadium Gaming installations increased while casinos reconfigured during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It’s nearly impossible to visit a casino without seeing some form of electronic or video blackjack, roulette, or craps games. Starting earlier this year, every Caesars casino on the Vegas Strip is offering some kind of large-format Stadium Gaming area. This is in addition to smaller ETGs around the casino.
Some smaller casinos like Tuscany and Casino Royale have ditched live dealer table games for video and electronic versions.
Casinos are also installing non-traditional games that use a similar Random Number Generator (RNG) system that slot machines use to operate. Circa is the first casino in the country to offer gambling on a Rock Paper Scissors game. The casino was also one of the first to offer gambling with the Go Go Claw game last year.
All of these machine games use a TITO system like slot machines. Players insert cash into the gaming machines and print a voucher when they’re done.
The increase in gaming machine revenue should continue to increase with new options hitting casino floors.
Fewer casinos dispensing change for TITOs
There are fewer redemption machines in casinos returning change to players. This option started prior to Covid-19 but exploded during the pandemic.
In 2019, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas launched the Giving Module. This program allows players to give change from their TITO to a charity.
For example, a player can submit a $20.20 ticket to a cash redemption kiosk. At the time a person could redeem the ticket for the full amount or keep $20 and donate the 20 cents to one of four charities the casino chooses to support.
Many casinos now offer a similar charity option at their ticket redemption kiosks with a small twist. More and more casinos are not returning change.
The trend of casinos not returning coins when a player redeems a TITO started during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Casinos stopped dispensing change for all tickets due to a coin shortage.
Instead, some of the kiosks will now only return dollar bills and print a new TITO for the change. Players then have to walk to the casino cashier to redeem the ticket for the remaining change.
Using the example above, a machine will return the player $20 and print a voucher for 20 cents.
Expect more unclaimed vouchers
Some players will go to the cashier and redeem the 20-cent ticket. There are other players that will hold onto the vouchers and combine them with other vouchers.
Eventually, this person will run out of opportunities to combine the small ticket with other tickets and either cash the remainder or forget about the change. Lastly, there are some players that will either forget the ticket entirely or just leave the ticket for someone else to deal with.
While this trend started with The Cosmopolitan, it’s spread to casinos throughout the state. Having the option to donate leftover change to a charity is a great option for many players.
Unfortunately, not returning coins directly to players likely means that many vouchers will go without being cashed for various reasons. Ultimately, it appears as though there will be more unclaimed vouchers for Nevada and casinos in the Silver State to collect revenue.