A question that is often asked is whether or not a player should play with a loyalty card, i.e., the Player’s card.
The initial reaction from most players is yes, that one should play with a player’s card. I agree with this assessment; however, there are a few reasons to not use a Player’s card.
The two main reasons for using the Player’s card are comps and offers. On the issue of offers, I’m talking about free rooms, free food, free play, etc. Many offers can be quite strong, especially during the slow season, when the casino is trying to attract guests. Those offers can eclipse the value of your comp bank.
Most players use the Player’s card to earn comps. Earned comps are the comps that a player acquires from their play according to a formula set by the casino.
There are other lesser-known reasons, such as rebate reconciliation. Almost all the reasons to use a player’s card involve some form of tracking.
Let’s now go over the reasons why you should not use a player’s card.
WHEN TO NOT USE A PLAYER’S CARD
First, let me disclaim that I am not condoning or endorsing any of these reasons. I am merely stating for purposes of education and debate.
If the player has tax issues, the player may consider not using a player’s card. In many jurisdictions, if the player has tax liens or other tax issues, use of a player’s card can alert the casino to the player’s tax issues and thus cause the casino to withhold funds from chips to slot machine payouts.
Note that for slot machine payouts that involve a handpay, the player may be required to turn over personal information, regardless of whether or not the player has a player’s card. However, this information and hold will not be triggered until the player hits a qualifying jackpot. With a player’s card, the casino may be notified immediately, and the player may have problems cashing out non-handpay jackpots.
Also, in the event that the taxpayer is sued for nonpayment of taxes, if the lawsuit is a civil lawsuit, the taxpayer may be subject to discovery rules that will require the disclosure of Player’s card transactions. These transactions can have an incriminating aura about them, even if the gambler has an innocent explanation. Furthermore, the discoverable presence of gambling activity, while subject to back taxes, may negatively impact your ability to obtain a favorable offer in settlement talks.
Child Support Issues
If a player owes back child support, the player may consider not using a player’s card (RoadGambler wonders why someone who is behind on child support is gambling, but that’s another matter).
I have seen instances in a casino, where a player was denied cash out of $1000 worth of chips because the casino was notified of back child support. I was in line behind the gentleman, and despite what looked like a simple cash out, the wait was over 10 minutes. Out of curiosity, I asked the guy what was going on, and he said they were holding his money pending a check from the agency in charge of child support.
Finally, if the player owes back child support and is attempting to modify their future child support obligations, the discoverable presence of gambling activity can have a detrimental effect on the parent’s attempt to modify.
Player is in Bankruptcy Proceeding
If the player is in Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy proceeding, the player may want to avoid the use of the Player’s card.
When a person files for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy petitioner lists a schedule of exemptions. These exemptions allow the person to retain those assets pending the discharge of debts, and usually after the discharge or reorganization of debts.
If a player is doing well at the casino and then subsequently cashes out, those cash-out amounts will be subject to the bankruptcy estate and then must be declared to the bankruptcy trustee. While it’s true that the recent gains would be subject to the estate, regardless of whether or not the person has a player’s card, the presence of multiple cash transactions, along with the mere presence of gambling activity, may cause the bankruptcy trustee to scrutinize the bankruptcy petition more closely.
If the petitioner is involved in a contested Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, it is very likely that the player’s card transaction will be discoverable and submitted as evidence in the bankruptcy process. If the bankruptcy petitioner fails to declare the transactions, that can be a federal offense subject to imprisonment. Hiding assets and transactions in a bankruptcy proceeding landed this celebrity couple in prison, and now the husband is being deported.
Any cashouts that are recorded on the player’s card will form a discoverable paper trail that can be subpoenaed by the bankruptcy trustee. Just remember that fact.
Finally, gambling while in a bankruptcy petition just has a bad smell to it. It’s best to not gamble while in a bankruptcy proceeding, but if the person insists on gambling, they should think twice about using a player’s card.
Player is in a Divorce Proceeding
If the player is in a divorce proceeding and resides in a state where community property is the law, the player may want to avoid using a player’s card. Any chips cashed and recorded on a player’s card, or any jackpot paid, may be subject to division as part of the community estate, and the player’s card will create a perfect paper trail.
The additional problem rises that gambling activity during the divorce proceeding can be viewed as a unilateral expenditure of the marital estate. That activity can bring sanctions and penalties.
It’s true that in community property states, most funds and assets produced during the marriage are subject to being a part of the community estate. However, if the divorce is contested, divorce litigants will often argue that certain funds or assets were realized from separate income, either owned separately prior to the marriage or obtained as the fruit of separate property, and that this property is thus exempted from the community estate. The use of a Player’s card makes this separate property argument a bit murkier, which is why, barring illegitimate attempts to hide assets (something RoadGambler does not condone), there are legitimate reasons to not use a Player’s card if one is involved in a divorce proceeding.
Player has a Judgment or Lien
This one speaks for itself.
Here’s a recent case right here involving Phil Ivey, who had his winnings confiscated because they knew he was Phil Ivey.
Even worse, it wasn’t just Phil Ivey who ended up getting screwed, his backers were screwed, too.
So just think twice if you head into a casino and decide to play. If you hit a large jackpot, where you would be required to produce an ID, or if you use a player’s card, you’ll just be stubbing your own toe.
Player Does Not Want to be Identified Due to AdvantagePlay
This reason is highly debatable, but I’ll put it out there.
Many advantage players, such as card counters, roulette ball trackers, hole carders, ‘must hit’ jackpot squatters, and Ultimate X vultures, among many others, do not like using Player’s card because it identifies them to the casino. The advantage of skipping the use of the player’s card in this case is somewhat arguable, as casinos nowadays use facial-recognition software to identify players.
Personally, I think that the benefit to not using a Player’s card, in this case, is subject to the person’s ‘heat’ tolerance and ability to camouflage. For some advantage players, such as full pay video poker players, the extra return from the player’s card is a large chunk of the positive expectation from their advantage play.
If the Player Has a Gambling Problem
At Roadgambler.com, we believe that responsible gambling is cheaper than many forms of entertainment and can teach valuable life lessons. But like anything else, if the consumer is unable to control themselves, then a good thing can become a bad thing. The principal is true whether with gambling or drinking water, both of which can cause harm if done to excess.
If you or a family member has a gambling problem, I recommend that you do not sign up for the player’s card. Unless the player has opted out of receiving mailers, the player’s card will usually result in a ton of mailers to your house or place of business. Those mailers are professionally produced marketing devices that often cause the recipient to feel as if they are at the casino.
These mailers will have a tendency to pile up around your house because some of the offers will be too good to throw away. When the casino is offering $100 worth of free play, the player might think, ‘this would be like throwing away $100’. The result is a constant reminder of the casino’s presence. To a person with a gambling problem, that’s the equivalent of a recovering alcoholic hanging around a bar all day.
In real life, Sam Malone would probably have fallen off the wagon and lost his bar. Don’t try to be Sam Malone.
If you are a responsible gambler, but you do not want mailers, then ask the casino to opt you out of receiving mailers. Barring oversight or mistake, every casino will respect your request. This will allow you to accrue earned comps while saving you from the avalanche of mailers.
WARNING AGAINST STRUCTURING
I often hear that players will not use a Player’s card and cash out their chips in increments, in an effort to avoid taxes. This is a practice known as structuring, and it’s a felony, punishable by seizure of the funds, a fine, and up to five years in prison.
I was once in a line in Las Vegas where a gambler asked the cashier, ‘how much can I cash out without reporting it to the IRS?’
I can guarantee that the cashier, after the transaction, filled out an IRS currency transaction report.
Do not structure your payouts. I advise against it.
As they say, ‘Pay Unto Caesar what is Caesars’. You’ll sleep easier at night.
RoadGambler does not endorse or condone any illicit activity. However, a paper trail of cash-outs and cash transactions can present a picture that may require an explanation, when no explanation would have been necessary if the player had declined to use a Player’s card. Innocent people can appear guilty, given the wrong context, and the Player’s card can create a shady context to smear a good person.
A player’s card will always create a paper trail of cashouts, and these cashouts can become a real problem. Almost all the reasons to not use a Player’s card has to do with creating that paper trail. So you should consider that when considering the use of a Player’s card.
Let me know in the comments if you have any comments or questions.