Debunking Vegas Rumors: Cashing Out from Unplayed Slot Machines is Permitted

Last week, TikTok user @ileana.justine shared a video demonstrating her favorite casino activity: scouring gaming machines for leftover money. After thirty minutes of searching, she collected $7.28 in abandoned cash-out vouchers. Though the video amassed 4 million views, she may not have been aware of the potential legal ramifications associated with the practice, known as ticket mining.

In the era of analog slots, the same activity was referred to as silver mining, due to the coins that were left by former players. In such an instance, the culprit could be kicked out of the casino and even face a permanent ban. In current jurisdictions, ticket mining may result in misdemeanor or felony theft charges, depending on the value of the vouchers.

A.J. Werling, a man from Colorado, was made an example of in 2004; he was convicted of misdemeanor fraud for using a 76-cent credit left in a slot machine by a prior user. While he had inserted his own $20 bill and wasn’t aware of the remaining credit, he was still fined $500 and forced to perform 24 hours of community service. He has since reported it has been a “nightmare” to explain the conviction to prospective employers and landlords on background checks.

In Nevada, ticket mining may be considered a misdemeanor or felony depending on the value of the vouchers. Additionally, the state district attorney has prosecuted criminal cases based on slot ticket theft before. While an expired voucher is considered unclaimed property and the state general fund receives 75% of the win, the original person who put the money in is still the rightful owner of the ticket.

As for @ileana.justine, she reassured her fans with the assurance that her lawyer had already checked the legality and it was not illegal in her state.

This week, we debunked the myth that you are allowed to cash out a slot you haven’t played. Slot tickets are still the property of the person who originally put the money in, even if they are abandoned in a casino. Nevada’s laws prohibit someone from claiming, collecting, or taking money from a gambling game without having made a wager, which can result in hefty fines and even jail time. So, be aware of the risks before engaging in ticket mining.