The rude awakening about ‘sleeper’ tickets

Oct 8, 2002 3:12 AM

   What is a sleeper? A "sleeper" is a winning Keno ticket that has not been collected by a player. At large, busy Keno games, it is not unusual to have a few "sleepers" every game, usually with small winners like 75 cents or a dollar.

   It is unusual, though not rare, to have large sleepers. A sleeper of $100 is not uncommon, since it is a typical pay for 5 out of 6 or 6 out of 8. The largest sleeper I can recall seeing in person was a solid five spot paying $750, and I don't think it was ever collected. I have heard of larger ones — much larger — and perhaps some of you will want to send me some stories.

   If a ticket is not collected by its owner, (the original player) who then does the money belong to? I have done some research on this question and have some experience so I can tell you with authority: It depends on whom you ask!

   If you ask the owners of the casino, they will tell you the unpaid winnings belong to the casino. Period.

   If you ask a Keno employee, they will probably ask you, "Really? How much is it?"

   If you ask a creatively underemployed person who frequents casinos on the hunt for bargains, he will tell you that it belongs to him: because he found it, someone gave it to him, he took it in payment for a drink token, possession is nine points of the law, it belongs to his girlfriend who's waiting outside and is gonna be p---d.

   If you ask a Gaming Control Agent who is thrust into this dispute (which by the time he arrives includes casino suits and hotel security) he or she will generally try to resolve the issue to the satisfaction of all concerned. If this proves impossible, then the incident evolves into an enforcement matter, and the ticket is impounded as evidence, often to the dismay of the previously involved parties.

   If you ask the State Attorney General, he or she (or a minion who is willing to talk to a citizen) will tell you that the money rightfully belongs to the original player. And that money is to be turned over to the State for safekeeping. And after a period of time, if the rightful owner of the money cannot be located, then the money escheats to the State. Now I've never seen a newspaper advertisement by the Attorney General advertising found money, but that doesn't mean it’s never happened.

   I digress. This is the point: When you are done with your Keno session, go to the counter and check all your tickets. Have the writer scan them. That way you'll get what you paid for.

   Well, that's it for this week. Good Luck! I'll see you in line!