Nevada’s gambling authority is examining potential changes to a policy that has, thus far, demanded any licensed casino to pay jackpots to trespassers. As reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the issue is being addressed in light of a recent ruling by the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) that required the Casablanca hotel-casino in Mesquite to honor a jackpot won by Rhon Wilson. The individual in question is a repeat offender who has trespassed on the casino’s premises multiple times since 2011. Wilson was not allowed to enter the casino and place wagers at the time he placed the winning wager, yet he was paid $2,045 after the NGCB ruled in his favor in early October.
As shown in the hearing officer’s report the Las Vegas Review-Journal acquired by way of a public records request, the winning wager was placed in April, and the game involved was Dragon Link. The jackpot amounted to $1,660, while Wilson’s slot machine credits were $385. Wilson was discovered to have entered the gambling establishment illegally after the casino’s staff identified the player as per rules dictating that a given casino must prepare Internal Revenue Service paperwork after an individual scores a substantial jackpot.
Initially, the casino did not pay the winner as per its own policies, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Instead, its staff addressed such issues by calling law enforcement to escort trespassers out of the casino and reporting such situations to the NGCB. Following a patron dispute, however, Wilson was paid his winnings, seeing as the case did not involve malfunctioning casino equipment.
The Casablanca Hotel-Casino was Unsuccessful in Appealing the Decision
After two failed attempts to appeal the ruling, the Casablanca hotel-casino’s officials took the case to the NGCB in October. According to Mesquite Gaming LLC Vice President of Security and Government Affairs Dick Tomasso, Wilson should not be entitled to the winnings, given how he was banned from wagering at the casino. Tomasso also pointed out that conducting thorough trespasser checks for every casino patron that enters the building would be far too expensive for the gambling establishment.
However, Kirk Hendrick, Chairman of the NGCB, ultimately upheld Wilson’s right to receive the jackpot, citing the age of the NGCB’s fair jackpot policy. He and board-member Brittnie Watkins voted in favor of Wilson receiving the jackpot. However, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that board-member and retired Las Vegas Municipal Court Judge George Assad voted against the jackpot’s affirmation.
Mid-October saw Tomasso bringing up the issue of the policy’s existence and implementation, arguing for policy changes to be introduced that would make it so that Nevada-based casinos would no longer be required to pay trespassers. In addition, he emphasized that the terms “patron” and “trespasser” are not “interchangeable.”
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the problem is not exclusive to Mesquite, seeing as the Assistant District Attorney of Clark County, Christopher Lalli, said that since July, a total of 87 trespass cases have been recorded. Assad also weighed in on the matter, stating that he found the policy to be “outdated” and that introducing a new policy would be the key to resolving the issue.