The state of New Jersey scored a $69,000 haul this November, when the Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) took possession of unclaimed jackpots and other winnings held by three Atlantic City casinos.
The largest such seizure targeted the recently defunct Trump Taj Mahal, which was shuttered on October 10. Officials with the NJDGE transferred a sum of $66,364 from the Trump Taj Mahal to state coffers – $28,000 of which constituted poker winnings generated by two different players.
In both cases, the players were unable to verify their age as being over 21 years old, leaving the casino no choice but to withhold the funds.
Every state has its own policies for dealing with unclaimed winnings – which can occur when players aren’t 21, when payout vouchers are lost, or in the event of health issues and untimely death – and in New Jersey the NJDGE serves in the role of collections agent.
Per the terms of a state statute known as 46:30B1-109, the New Jersey Department of Treasury (NJDOT) operates the Unclaimed Property Administration to handle cases involving forfeited personal property. Within the dense legislative language outlining the Unclaimed Property Administration’s purview, the following passage covers the issue of unclaimed gambling winnings:
“Gambling casino funds in amount of unredeemed gaming chips and slot machine tokens, which Casino Control Commission had held in its possession for period of at least one year, were ‘abandoned intangible property’ subject to custodial escheat under Uniform Unclaimed Property Act. State v. Elsinore Shore Associates, 249 N.J.Super. 403, 592 A.2d 604 (A.D.1991).”
Casinos are obligated to hold any unclaimed winnings in proverbial limbo for a period of one year, at which point the player forfeits their rights of ownership over the “abandoned intangible property.”
As part of the program, all unclaimed casino winnings seized by the NJDGE on behalf of the Unclaimed Property Administration are diverted to a state fund which benefits senior citizens and disabled individuals.
While the Trump Taj Mahal held most of the $69,000 which was seized, regulators also targeted another bankrupted property previously owned by President-elect Donald Trump, as the Trump Plaza forfeited $2,200 in slot jackpots.
This smaller seizure required regulators to extend their investigative scope to at least September 16 of 2014, when the Trump Plaza closed its doors.
The third casino to part ways with unclaimed winnings was the Tropicana, which sent $437 worth of minor slot payout vouchers, a roulette machine payout voucher, and a single red $5 gambling chip.
In each case, the casinos participated fully with the NJDGE, as the process of accounting for unclaimed winnings is a regular part of every Atlantic City-based gambling establishment’s operational model.
When the identities of individual players were known, the state also sent letters to the parties in question, requesting documentation to prove that they were of age when the wins occurred. None of the gamblers who left winnings behind responded to the state’s queries, thus nullifying any objections to the seizure process that may have been levied on their behalf.