He really likes this casino

The Nevada Gaming Control Board is a mulling a change to its policies in light of siding with a serial trespasser when a casino would not pay him a jackpot he won.

The case was resolved in early October in a split vote by the Board. In it, the NGCB ordered the Casablanca hotel-casino in Mesquite to pay Rhon Wilson $2,045.18 in combined slot machine winnings and deposited credits, even though he had previously been banned from the property for trespassing.

Wilson’s history with Casablanca gates back to March 2011, when he was kicked out for stealing a one-dollar beer from the property’s lounge. That did not deter Wilson from going back and he was kicked out again five more times – once in 2014, twice in 2015, once in 2019, and once in 2022 – for things like drunk or disorderly conduct and petty theft.

But again, he remained undeterred. He went back to the casino on April 28 and hit a $1,660 jackpot on a Dragon Link slot machine. Because of the size of the prize, Wilson had to fill out IRS paperwork and when he provided the casino his ID, they figured out that he was not supposed to be on the property.

Just four days earlier, Casablanca had established a policy of not paying people who were trespassing, requiring employees to contact the police and the NGCB. The casino kept the jackpot payout and $385.18 that were in the machine at the cage, waiting for Wilson’s expected appeal with the NGCB.

Trespassing law different than gambling law

He had his hearing on May 24 and the Control Board hearing officer sided with him, citing a policy that still requires casinos to pay customers even if they had been banned and were trespassing. The reason behind the policy is that as long as the gambling was legal, that is an entirely separate act from trespassing and each should be handled on their own.

Casablanca appealed twice, eventually having the case heard by the full Board. Dick Tomasso, vice president of security and government affairs for Mesquite Gaming LLC, which owns the casino, argued that it is unrealistic and expensive to track every single patron in hopes of nabbing a trespasser. He added that because of the NGCB’s policy, which is not actually an official, written rule, many people are willing to risk a fine if they know they will still be awarded their winnings, should they hit it big.

The one Board member who voted against Wilson, George Assad, said simply that it’s a bad policy to allow trespassers to still be paid and that just because a policy has existed for a long time doesn’t mean it’s a good one. He added that he hopes the NGCB will change its policy soon.

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