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Deal Me In


On the road again

Dear Mark: Now in our senior years, my wife and I spend about six months a year RVing across the US. Thanks to what I believe was your referral, we bring along the American Casino Guide and make stops at many of the different casinos across America for both food and some light gambling. Interestingly, we find that many of the Indian casinos offer different forms of gambling compared to where we live (Fresno, CA) the other half of the year. What is the reasoning behind this? Boyd C. 


In 1988, Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) to "provide a legislative basis for the operation/regulation of Indian gaming, protect gaming as a means of generating revenue for the tribes, encourage economic development of these tribes, and protect the enterprises from negative influences (organized crime).” 

What the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act also does is establish three categories of gaming; Class I, Class II, and Class III, with a different regulatory scheme for each.

Class I are traditional Indian games, which may be part of tribal ceremonies and celebrations, and social games for minimal prizes. The tribes themselves have exclusive control over these games and are not subject to IGRA's regulations.

What you undoubtedly observed in your travels, Boyd, are the differences between Class II and Class III games. 

Class II games are games of chance commonly known as bingo, pull-tabs and non-banked card games (games that are played exclusively against other players instead of against the house or a player acting as a bank). What they do not include are slot machines or electronic facsimiles of any game of chance. Tribes themselves regulate Class II games with oversight by the National Indian Gaming Commission.

Casino-style gambling is Class III gaming. This includes games typically played at casinos: slots, video poker, table games, etc. Many conditions must be met for a tribe to offer Class III gaming. For instance, to offer Class III gaming, the tribe would not only have to negotiate a compact with the State, but also the State's cut of the gaming revenue.

Steve Bourie’s American Casino Guide remains the best all-inclusive guide of casinos nationwide for the budget conscious gambler. 

 Bourie updates American Casino Guide yearly (the 2016 guide is out) and he indexes every casino/resort in the U.S., plus all the toll-free phone numbers, web sites and e-mail addresses.

Noting in your question that you navigate your “stops at many of the different casinos across America for both food and light gambling,” as you know, Boyd, this is where the American Casino Guide comes in handy. The guide includes $1,000 in valuable casino coupons, like FREE rooms, shows, buffets, slot play, table betting money, and plenty more. 

Moreover, the book has statistics that show the actual returns on slot machines provided by each state’s gaming commission, the best-paying video poker games, which casinos offer the best table game rules, and over 100 pages of gambling tips, techniques and winning strategies.

Those interested can purchase the 2016 American Casino Guide ($18.95) at most major bookstores,, or at


Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “It (Gambling) is not as destructive as war or as boring as pornography. It is not as immoral as business or as suicidal as watching television. And the percentages are better than religion.” – Mario Puzo, Inside Las Vegas (1976)


Show Me Your I.D., Please!

Dear Mark: I have asked around, but nobody can give me a direct answer. If you get a taxable jackpot, will an expired driver's license be sufficient as an ID? Mary P.


Whenever someone wins $1,200 or more, an ID is required for tax purposes because Uncle Sam claims a piece of the action. Thus, casinos today require proper identification (e.g. driver’s license, state-issued ID, Military ID or passport) before you are paid your rightful winnings. Additionally, your identification must also have your photo on it. Sorry, Mary, but your Costco card isn’t going cut it. If you can board an airplane flight with your ID, then it will probably be valid enough to claim your jackpot. 

Now if your good fortune lines up three treasure chests, and you cannot produce a valid form of identification, the windfall is still yours. The casino will photograph you and hold your loot in the cashier’s cage until you come back with some bona fide ID. 

Likewise, when the casino examines your identification it makes sure you are legally of age to play. The minimum age for gambling varies from State to State, but under-age gamblers will NOT be paid if they hit a jackpot. Besides being the law in all gaming jurisdictions, denial of a jackpot to a minor has been challenged and upheld in the courts.

Since a minor cannot claim a jackpot, or dish it off to someone of age to split it with later – the eye in the sky is always watching – the jackpot is never paid and the illegitimate winnings are added to the casino’s revenue. 

Besides producing a valid photo ID, you will also be asked by the casino for a valid social security or tax identification number. If you decide screw that, “I’ve got my rights.” then plan on 25 - 30% being withheld depending on whether the jackpot is more or less than $5,000.

Throughout my reply, Mary, I used the word ‘valid.’ Unfortunately, an expired driver’s license will be your roadblock from collecting your jackpot. Nevertheless, your money awaits you at the cashier’s cage, and a quick trip to the DMV for a license renewal should solve your problem.


Dear Mark: Does a slot machine recognize a difference between insertion of currency and credit slips? It seems I win more when I insert bills over using credit slips from my past winnings. Dan L.   


A slot machine does NOT re-program the random number generator to affect the outcome based on cash or credits played.   

The slot machine program within does not give one iota about the source of the money. A dollar credit that came from your inserting a ticket has just as much chance to win as a dollar’s worth of credits that came from your inserting a $1 bill.   

Yes, Dan, there is some computer programming within the bill acceptor, but, it is to validate the authenticity of the currency and to communicate to the slot machine the amount of the currency/credit inserted. 

Ultimately, all the slot machine program determines is that the player still has credits available on the meter when the spin button is hit. 


Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “People's hobbies (gambling) are more their measure than are their jobs. Never mind what they are forced to do, like fight wars or make a living or embrace the king's religion. It is what do they choose to do in their spare time, if they have any?” – Robert Byrne, Byrne's Book of Great Pool Stories (1995)