Six or seven years ago, a regular blackjack player at Sandia Casino in Albuquerque told me a fun and interesting story. Unfortunately, I thought the story was unbelievable. A downright lie. In fact, I almost retold the story in my book, but decided against it at the last minute because I thought it was too much of a bullshit story. He said that while visiting a new casino, he would always check in with the Lost and Found office to see if anyone had turned in the “…$20 bill that he had lost.” He says that the trick had worked a few times over the years. He also said the trick worked once when he had asked, “Did anyone turn in a green ($25) chip?” The rationale behind the trick was that casino employees are forbidden to keep any cash or chips found in the casino. Since there are surveillance cameras everywhere, the rule usually results in the employee turning in loose chips or bucks to Lost and Found. Otherwise, they risk losing their job. The player also told me that he would never risk trying the trick more than once at the same place. Makes sense, but still unbelievable, right?

Last month, I experienced the unbelievable. While walking to the bathroom at a casino in a state that shall remain nameless for my own protection, I witnessed a female custodian picking up a bill about ten feet from a snack bar that sold coffee and pastries. I yelled out while walking in her direction, “Hey, I think that’s mine.” The custodian grinned while tightly clutching and covering the bill from my view, “Oh yeah?! How much is it?” I guessed, “Twenty.” The woman giggled while showing me the evidence, “Nope, it’s a ten.” I smiled back, and walked away silently as not to make a bigger fool of myself.

While in the bathroom, I thought to check Lost and Found later for the ten-dollar bill. Perhaps the custodian would turn in the money. I returned to playing blackjack for about thirty minutes. I figured I better wait awhile, or else the custodian may not have gone there yet. Or worse, she might be there when I asked about it again…that would REALLY be embarrassing. Then I had another thought: does this place even have a Lost and Found? I asked the dealer. She directed me to a podium near the casher’s cage where a uniformed guard usually sat. There was nobody there. I went back to playing blackjack.

While cashing out chips a couple hours later, I noticed that a guard was now manning the post. I said to him, “There you are. Is this Lost and Found?” He nodded. I then asked, “This may sound utterly ridiculous, but did anyone turn in a ten-dollar bill a few hours ago?” I expected the guard to reach under the podium and produce a cardboard box filled with sunglasses and gloves. Or, I expected him to look at me and start cracking up because I had asked such a fool question! Instead, he said, “Hold on.” He was a man of few words. The guard then walked into an area that appeared to share the same back-office space as the cashier’s cage. He returned a few minutes later with a small slip of white paper. “Here you go. Take this to the cashier.” He handed me a computer-generated voucher that was similar to cash comp coupons I had received at the casino on promotion days. It was for $10. I responded with a lie, “Whew…now I have gas money to get home.” I cashed out the voucher and left the casino in disbelief.

In hindsight, I wonder how much trouble I would’ve been in had the eyes in the sky reviewed the tape to see that my inquiry was false. Did I break a law? Will I get arrested or kicked out the next time I visit that casino? Now for the bigger question…will I begin asking Lost and Founds in other casinos for lost stuff out of the blue in the future? I don’t know if the con is worth the consequences.

Has anything like this ever happened to anyone else?

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