The Bear Growls: Stratosphere welches on payment to winning patron

Stratosphere Las Vegas

The Wizard of Odds was recently victimized by an unethical sportsbook manager at the Stratosphere in Las Vegas. Here is a link to the Wizard’s comments:

Shame on the Stratosphere for using this excuse to stiff a patron. Shame on the Nevada Gaming Control Board for letting casinos get away with arbitrary “expiration dates” of sportsbetting tickets. Assuming what the Wizard wrote is accurate, I think we can put Patrick Rethore in the same category as the creeps who run the Wynn sportsbook. Wynn’s sportsbook has stiffed at least one winner using the “expired ticket” excuse. Terrible’s has done the same. Planet Hollywood now admits that “intelligent bettors” (the exact words of one of its employees) are not allowed to bet there. Stratosphere and its related properties have adopted a similar policy.

Station Casinos tried to intimidate a patron into forgiving a debt. The patron insisted on being paid his winnings; Station paid the bet, then 86’d the patron. Golden Nugget (under previous ownership) tried a couple of years ago to cheat a patron by simply refusing to pay a winning bet. Gaming eventually forced payment and assessed a ridiculously small fine against the Golden Nugget. The Orleans sportsbook has at least twice had to be forced by Gaming to pay winning tickets after it tried to intimidate the winning patron to just go away and not collect his winnings. Neither time was Orleans penalized by Gaming for the attempts to cheat a patron.

Sportsbooks used to be somewhat decent with at least a small bit of integrity and sense of fair play compared to the rest of the casino industry. Some still are run ethically. But sadly, the concept of honorable operations has become foreign to many sportsbook managers, and they wallow in slime along with the other bottom-feeders of the casino industry.

Jeff Haney wrote this interesting article on the bad attitude and condition of many of Nevada’s sportsbooks.

Shame on Patrick Rethore. the Stratosphere, Wynn, Terrible’s, Golden Nuggget, Station Casinos, Orleans, and the other sportsbooks that have tried to welch on paying legitimate winners. Equally shameful is the Gaming Control Board allowing this travesty to continue.

See also: Stratosphere’s refusal to honor expired ticket gives sports books another black eye

Apparently someone with more sense than Mr. Rethore became aware of the sordid situation.

On May 22, 2008, the Stratosphere Casino & Hotel and Michael Shackleford mutually resolved all claims that were outstanding in the complaint before the State of Nevada Gaming Control Board. The Stratosphere honored Mr. Shackleford’s wager and both Stratosphere and Mr. Shackleford are pleased with the outcome.



  1. Banks have a time limit of 90-180 days to cash a check depending on the bank. After that the check is void and they take the draft out of their system. They don’t want to loose revenue.

    Retailers impose time limits on how long you have to return merchandise after it is purchased. They don’t want patrons returning a winter coat in the middle of a 105 degree summer. They loose revenue.

    Gift cards have expiration dates on them. The retailers don’t want unused gift cards sitting in your wallet, they want them used. The money that was used to buy the gift card is not considered revenue until the card is used on merchandise. It is an accounting nightmare and the merchant spends unwanted hours and personnel tracking this money. Some retailer’s even charge fee’s on unused balances causing the entire gift to be used in fees!

    Earned rewards on credit cards and incentive programs expire. These programs are more than willing to give you airline miles or reward points but they also give those an expiration date. As with gift cards, the accounting costs a lot for the company offering the reward, if you don’t take advantage of what you have earned within the state time frame they are void.

    There is also a reason that these sports books don’t want to deal with “Intelligent Betters” or “Advantage Players” and there are reasons that all of these sports books have this same “Expiration Rule”. I think the thing that is being missed here is that the casinos are a business, plain and simple. They are out for their bottom line, just like the cleaners down the street or Microsoft. And just as any other company, they have the right to refuse service. It is and always has been that gambling favors the house and if you’re going to have an advantage you are not welcome.

    The gaming control board makes them play by the rule book, but it is the consumer’s responsibility as a patron to know the rules and to play by those same rules. This code of conduct was put in place by the gaming board to serve the betting public as well as the casino.

    This particular rule is clearly printed on the back of any betting ticket from any casino along with instructions on how to redeem the ticket and collect your winnings. I would think that the Wizard of Odds, who portrays himself as an Advantage Better and a very long time Las Vegas resident, would know this rule well. Personally, if I have a winning ticket, no matter how much the win is for, I am cashing that it within the week. If I am betting to win and I know that I have won, I am not going to waste any time getting what is mine.

    Something the Wizard said made me chuckle. He said, “I recognize that the Stratosphere had the legal right to deny the ticket. However, in my opinion, they are not morally right.” My response is, isn’t gambling immoral to begin with?

  2. Mamabear is completely right on this. Stratosphere paid the ticket based on the bad press it was getting, but the payout was only $1,000 if I remember correctly. That’s a drop in the bucket for them. If you have had an expired ticket cashed for you in the past then consider yourself a fortunate person for the casino extending some gratitude towards your play. I don’t seem to have any of these problems when I go gambling. I pay attention to my bets, I get my bets in on time, I don’t rush, remain friendly to the wait staff, dealers, even tip occasionally and I get basically anything I want. I never run in to any of these problems. I just looked at this lottery ticket that I won $20 on. It even says that it expires 6 months from the announced end of game, so good thing that guy got his money, I guess, but he also needs to pay attention next time and not wait 3 months or more to collect $1,000. I guess he didn’t need the money that badly.

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