Question: My friend told me a story recently about being kicked out of a casino, and I have a hard time believing him. He said that he found a slot machine that still had around $20 of credit on it from someone who had walked away and forgotten to cash out. After playing through the credit, security came over and told him that he had to return the $20 and leave the casino immediately, and that he couldn't return for a month! All he did was find some money that someone forgot, could he really have been kicked out?

Your friend's story is not completely far-fetched, through realistically there were probably additional details about the incident that didn't make it into his story. The fact of the matter is, technically your friend was in the wrong – just because he found something didn't automatically make it his.

The floor of a casino is not a public place, it is still private property. As such, casinos have the right to determine their own policies regarding abandoned or lost money. Furthermore, certain gaming jurisdictions also have laws governing how to deal with lost money in a casino. If casinos simply let people claim ownership of anything they find, the casino itself could be exposing itself to legal and ethical difficulties.

For the most part, casinos deal with abandoned credits or even cash on the ground the same way they would deal with a wallet dropped by the cashier's cage or a coat left on the back of a blackjack chair. The casino makes an effort to find the rightful owner of the money or property and return it to him or her; if they cannot find the person immediately, they keep the property to see if anyone returns to claim it.

Finding the person who left the credits on a machine or dropped their ticket on the floor is actually far easier than you might think. The widespread use of player's club cards, along with the 'eye in the sky' of course, make it pretty easy to determine who left the credits and attempt to return the money to them. Just because someone was stupid and forgot to hit 'cash out' when they left the machine doesn't mean they should automatically lose their property, in the casino's view.

What your friend should have done, and what is usually the recommended course of action, was to simply alert one of the casino slot staff about the missing credits and then walk away, as that money would not have been his, even though he was the one who found it.

That being said, it's hard to believe that your friend got the boot simply for playing $20 in credit that he found on a machine. It's very rare for casino staff to impose that kind of punishment, though it has been known to happen. Usually, if the slot manager decided to do anything at all, he or she will simply inform the player of the casino's policy and tell them not to let it happen again. And if the original owner of the $20 credit comes looking for it, the casino will just give them their credits back.

That's why I think your friend might not be telling you the whole story. When casino management kicks a player out of a casino for playing abandoned credit, it's most likely because the 'player' is actually a low-life scammer scouring the casino for abandoned credits or loose change on the floor.

Perhaps the casino suspected your friend of doing this habitually; or else he did something else to get himself 86'd, like insult the security guard or refuse to return the money to its rightful owner. No matter the reason, the lesson here is to report abandoned slot machine credits, or just leave them alone.