Can a casino refuse to pay out winnings

Reasons why casinos refuse to pay out winnings

Non-payment of winnings is quite a common problem in the gambling industry. According to a study by the Gambling Commission in 2019-2020, operators received 132,862 complaints from players. This is 14.4% less than in the previous year, but still a significant number. Many players believed that filing a complaint would be a tedious process. However, those who did decide to file a complaint had a more positive experience than expected, even though can a casino keep your winnings was a common concern. This underscores the importance of protecting your rights through negotiation, appealing to independent bodies and regulatory authorities. The main thing is to act calmly, gather all the necessary evidence, and not give up in the fight for justice.
In this article, we will examine the reasons why a casino may refuse to pay out winnings, as well as the steps a player can take in such a situation.

Reasons why a casino may refuse to pay out

  1. Violation of casino rules and conditions: Casinos have strict rules and conditions that players must follow. If a player violates these rules, the casino may refuse to pay out winnings. Data from contact centres shows that misleading advertising and customer service issues are among the main reasons for player complaints.
  2. Suspicions of fraud: Data from alternative dispute resolution (ADR) bodies shows that disputes related to bet settlement criteria and instructions were the most common reason for complaints in 2019/2020. Casinos closely monitor for any signs of fraud, such as card counting or the use of bots, and can casinos refuse to cash you out if there are suspicions.
  3. Technical failures or errors: In rare cases, a casino may refuse to pay out winnings due to technical failures or errors in the slot machines. Usually, the casino’s rules state that winnings resulting from malfunctions are void.
  4. The requirement to provide identification: For large payouts, casinos typically require the player to provide identification.
  5. Outstanding child support or other payments: In the UK, the Gambling Act Winnings Interception Policy requires licensed gambling operators to check large player winnings for outstanding child support or other government payments. If a player is found to have outstanding child support or government debts, the gambling operator is required to withhold all or part of the winnings to pay off these debts. Information on outstanding debts is provided by the relevant government agencies.

Player rights and obligations regarding payouts

Players have the right to receive their winnings in full, provided they comply with all casino rules and conditions. However, they also have a number of obligations that must be met to ensure timely and secure payout.

  1. Players are obligated to carefully review the rules, terms, and payout policy of a particular casino before starting to play. Failure to meet any requirements may result in a delay or refusal to pay out winnings.
  2. Players must provide accurate personal information and identification documents upon request by the casino. This is necessary for verifying age, identifying the player, and preventing fraud.
  3. When winning large sums, players are required to undergo additional verification procedures in accordance with regulatory requirements and casino policies. This may include providing information about the source of funds used to fund the gaming account.
  4. Players must comply with any withdrawal limits set by the casino, as well as adhere to the appropriate timeframes for submitting payout requests.

In cases where there are suspicions of fraud, violation of rules or the use of unfair gaming methods, the casino has the right to withhold or refuse to pay out winnings until all circumstances are clarified.

In the event of a dispute, players are obligated to first contact the casino’s support service to resolve the issue. If the issue is not resolved, they can then appeal to an independent dispute resolution body or regulatory authorities. By observing these rights and obligations, players can protect themselves from potential problems with payout of winnings and defend their interests in the event of disputes with the casino.

Can someone else claim my casino winnings?

Yes, in some cases third parties may legally be entitled to a portion or the full amount of your casino winnings. This could happen if you have outstanding financial obligations to these parties, such as unpaid child support, unpaid loans, or legal judgments. This is because casinos are required to comply with legal demands to pay portions of winnings to third parties based on court orders and other official rulings.

Can casinos keep your winning for counting cards?

Yes, a casino has the right to refuse to pay out your winnings if there is irrefutable evidence that you used card-counting methods during the game. Although card counting itself is not illegal, most casinos prohibit it in their rules, as it gives players a mathematical advantage.

Casinos closely monitor gaming behaviour through video surveillance, dealer reports, and bet analysis. If they have clear evidence of your card counting, such as camera footage or staff testimony, the casino can confiscate all your winnings and require you to immediately leave the premises. They view card counting as a form of cheating and deception.

However, there must be strong evidence to refuse payment. In the absence of evidence and an improper decision by the casino, you can appeal the refusal through official channels.

Can a casino keep your winnings if you owe taxes

In the UK, casino winnings are subject to income tax. Casinos licensed by the UK Gambling Commission are required to check players for outstanding tax debts with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) before paying out large winnings. If such a check reveals that the player has an unpaid tax debt with HMRC, the casino must withhold the corresponding amount from the winnings for subsequent payment to HMRC to settle the tax debt.

The amount withheld will depend on the size of the player’s tax debt and the amount of their casino winnings. Casinos are not permitted to pay out large winnings until any outstanding tax debts have been settled. This requirement is stipulated in UK gambling and taxation legislation to ensure full payment of taxes owed to the government. Only after withholding the necessary amounts to settle the debt can the casino pay the player the remaining portion of their winnings.

Real cases of refusal to pay winnings

Let’s look at a few high-profile cases involving casinos refusing to pay out winnings.

Katrina Bookman and the $42.9 million jackpot

In 2016, Katrina Bookman was playing the “Sphinx Wild” slot machine at Resorts World New York casino when she saw a message on the screen indicating she had won a $42.9 million jackpot, and she took a selfie in front of the message. However, her joy was short-lived. The next day, casino representatives told Bookman that her jackpot win was the result of a machine malfunction. Instead of paying out the massive jackpot, the casino offered her a steak dinner and $2.25 as compensation. Not agreeing with this decision, Bookman sued the casino and its partners, demanding either the jackpot payout or at least $6,500 – the actual maximum payout for that machine. However, the court sided with the casino, citing rules that any machine malfunctions void all payouts. For more details on this case, you can read the full story here.

Jacqueline Davis and the $3 million jackpot

In 2021, Jacqueline Davis claimed that BetMGM casino refused to pay her $3 million that she allegedly won playing the online game “Luck O’ the Roulette.” The casino cited a technical glitch that voided her winnings. Davis had played over five days, starting with $50 and gradually increasing her bets. When she tried to claim a $100,000 advance, the casino only paid her that amount, explaining that the larger win was the result of a glitch. Davis sought legal help, but the court sided with the casino, confirming that slot machine glitches void any payouts.

Roni Bell and the $1.2 million jackpot

In February 2024, Roni Bell won over $1.2 million on a Wheel of Fortune slot machine at Bally’s Atlantic City casino. However, the casino refused to pay out the jackpot, citing a machine malfunction known as a “tilted reel.” Bell sought legal counsel and sued the casino and software provider. She argued that actions by casino staff may have compromised evidence of her jackpot win, as they tampered with the machine before an independent inspection could occur. Despite her efforts, the court ruled in favour of the casino, stating that machine malfunctions void any winnings.

Phil Ivey and “Edge Sorting”

In 2012, renowned poker player Phil Ivey won £7.7 million at London’s Crockfords Club casino using the “edge sorting” technique to identify favourable cards in the baccarat-style game Punto Banco. However, the casino refused to pay out his winnings, claiming Ivey had breached their rules. After lengthy legal battles, the UK Supreme Court ultimately sided with the casino, ruling that Ivey’s actions violated the principles of a fair game.

Andrew Green and the £1.7 million jackpot

Andrew Green won a jackpot of £1.7 million in an online casino playing “Frankie Dettori’s Magic Seven Blackjack” in January 2018. When he tried to withdraw his winnings, the company Betfred refused him, citing a “defect” in the game that allegedly increased the chances of winning. After three years of legal proceedings, Green won the case in the High Court, which ruled that Betfred’s terms and conditions did not apply to his case. Green will receive his £1,722,923.54 plus interest. Betfred apologised for the delay and stated that they will not appeal the court’s decision.

These high-profile cases demonstrate how crucial it is for casinos to uphold their commitments and pay out legitimate jackpots, even if they result from a software glitch, provided the player did not intentionally exploit that glitch. Clear rules, transparency, and fair treatment of players are extremely important for maintaining the reputation of the gambling industry.