The slot play must go on

time on the machine
Bill on Capitol Hill, CC BY-NC 2.0
time on the machine
Bill on Capitol Hill, CC BY-NC 2.0

Members of Congress write lots of letters, and then send out press releases about them.

One example in the genre Monday was a release from Rep. Dina Titus noting that she and fellow Democratic Rep. Darin LaHood have written to the Treasury Department asking the department to increase the amount slot (and bingo!) players can win before having to report the earnings. The threshold is $1,200. They want it raised to $5,000.

When a player hits a jackpot of more than $1,200, “the machine locks up and stops play,” the members of Congress wrote. “Staff must issue a W2-G form to the player and validate its accuracy.”

Wait. What? If the machine seizes up, does that interrupt continued play, in turn disrupting the casino’s age-old revenue model whereby $1,200 (and then some) won is soon lost?

Titus and LaHood note the $1,200 threshold was established in 1977, and if indexed to inflation would now equal $5,000.

“Raising the threshold would reduce the paperwork burden on businesses and players while ensuring the tax code reflects current economic realities,” they wrote.

And if it assures the player keeps gambling gaming — and starts losing — after hitting a jackpot instead of quitting while ahead? That, too, might be fine with casinos and slot route operators.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson has been writing about Nevada policy and politics for more than 20 years. He was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and wrote the then-groundbreaking Las Vegas Gleaner, which among other things was the only independent political blog from Nevada that was credentialed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He spent a few years as a senior energy and environmental policy analyst for Public Citizen, and has occasionally worked as a consultant on mining, taxation, education and other issues for Nevada labor and public interest organizations. His freelance work has been published in outlets ranging from the Guardian to Desert Companion to In These Times to the Oil & Gas Journal. For several years he also taught U.S. History courses at UNLV. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and then assistant managing editor at the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s largest newspaper.


  1. I read somewhere that Vanna White gets a tenth of a penny in royalties every time a “Wheel of Fortune” slot machine shouts out “big money!”. And, notice you’ve never seen Vanna and Dina Titus in the same room at the same time ? ..


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