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5+5 = How about 17x17

Author: Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: A recent column with a question from Mary P. amused me a great deal. So, I thought I would share the reason with you here.

My story starts wih a trip, to the executive office at the Windsor Casino. I was there to ask a question similar to hers, about the Car Promotions they hold and claiming a Grand Prize in them. The cool thing about winning the car or cash at the Windsor, is that it's all tax free in Canada. At any rate, they do still require the same Photo ID protocols, but with one additional step.

The manager I spoke with told me that, per Ontario Law, a competency question must be asked of the lucky winner. The question is just a simple math question, but it has to be solved without a pen, paper, or other device. If the winner fails to answer correctly, the casino will hold the winnings until the player returns to try again, or appoints a custodian to come along and answer the question for him.

He went on to explain, “It is the Government's Do Gooders at work. They are trying to ensure a deranged winner does not go off the deep end winning the car or all of that money.” Now it is beyond me to know how answering such a question can lead anyone to the conclusion that someone is mentally competent. Jerry

You have told me something I was completely unaware of in your email. I have personally visited the Caesar's Windsor Hotel and Casino many times. But, outside of spending a few dollars trying a new slot, I stay away from slots because of thir high house advantage.

Then too, these days I seldom gamble when I go to a casino. Instead, I skirt the casino floor and collect information on table limits and paytables, and study the demographics of players. Also the buffet offering also makes that list of activities, for research purposes only, of course.

Casino employees also better know their math. When I was working at the Club Cal Neva in Reno, one owner, Warren Nelson, would stop by the roulette table and test you on a payout. Luckily for us dealers who came to work half asleep, the question was always “what’s 17X17?” If you didn’t get the answer right, you were sent upstairs to deal 50¢ Blackjack. I can assure you there were plenty of deranged players who were swimming in the deep end on that game.

Just one more thing. Even though Canada will pay you a tax-free jackpot, you are still not off the hook as far as taxes go. The IRS considers winnings, from any form of gambling worldwide as taxable and insist it be reported as "Other Income,” on Form 1040, the US Individual Tax Return, even though the casino did not issue a W-2G.

Dear Mark: I have been thinking that casinos aren't bothered if someone drives to their establishment to lose a lot of money using an expired driver's license. So, why can't an expired driver's license still serve as a valid ID? The only thing expired is the right to drive. The date of birth, photograph, address and other data should still be accurate and legit. After all people don't drive inside a casino, they GAMBLE! Don M.

I hear what you're saying, but the ticles/Casino-Gambling is one of the most-regulated business in the United States. Thus, casino operators live by the strictest rules and regulations of any industry that I'm aware of.

You can bet that some regulation, somewhere, states that the license must be “valid.” Sure, a slot employee my accept the expired license a visual verification, but no casino operator would endanger their precious gaming license by accepting an expired driver’s license when paying off a slot jackpot.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “They clinked their glasses to the glorious game of "Nap", lighted cigars, and fell to shuffling and dealing the cards.” – Jack London, The Sea Wolf (1904)