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Ask Mr. A.C. Casino: What to do with a deceased spouse’s rewards

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Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 5:11 pm

It may seem trivial at a serious time such as a loved one’s death, but what happens to any comp dollars in a deceased player’s casino loyalty program account if there is a great deal of money involved? Even if a will or trust addresses this — specifically designating a spouse, partner, relative or friend to receive these comps — Atlantic City’s casinos handle the transactions in different ways.

According to Atlantic City Operations Customer Relations Coordinator Courtney Cruz, the four Total Rewards casinos (Bally’s Atlantic City, Caesars Atlantic City, Harrah’s Resort and Showboat Casino-Hotel) will transfer any Reward Credit balance to a surviving spouse or domestic partner. (Tier credits and tier status will not transfer.) Bring valid identification, both Total Rewards cards, the deceased player’s personal identification number and appropriate documentation, such as death certificate or obituary notice, to any Total Rewards Center. Reward Credits will still expire on their preset expiration date and that date cannot be extended. And, by the way, this policy is not limited to Atlantic City or even New Jersey. All Total Rewards casinos follow this same procedure.

Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and Tropicana Casino and Resort have similar policies.

“We won’t let those comp dollars go to waste,” a representative at the My Borgata Rewards Center told me. “With proper documentation we can transfer them to a spouse or close relative.”

Keep in mind, though, that Borgata comp dollars expire six months after they are earned.

According to the Trop Advantage Center at Tropicana, spouses need to link their accounts. With proper documentation, any remaining comp dollar balance will be transferred to the surviving spouse’s account.

Golden Nugget Atlantic City, Resorts Casino Hotel, Revel Casino Hotel, Trump Plaza and Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort consider the accounts closed. Heirs forfeit any balance. The “Rules & Regulations” on Revel Cards even specifically address this: “Tier Point and Resort Dollar balances are non-transferable, including upon death or divorce.” The other casinos have no specific policies addressing this issue.

So what’s the bottom line? The easiest solution is to keep comp balances as low as possible, especially if the player is elderly or in bad health, but it’s probably best to approach the situation on a case-by-case basis. Where the casino has no policy and the deceased customer was a big player, an heir could contact the cardholder’s host and make the request.

In any event, at a minimum I would keep the player’s loyalty card account number, PIN and casino host’s name and contact information as part of a file containing any other important papers such as a will, insurance policies, deeds and more.

Best of both worlds

If you can’t decide whether to play the lottery or your favorite slot machine, now you can do both at one time. Debuting exclusively in New Jersey at the Golden Nugget Atlantic City, Lightning Lotto combines the best of both options right on the casino floor.

For a minimum quarter bet and up to $5 max, you can pick six numbers and win an instant jackpot without having to wait until the next day’s drawing.

You can pick from one to four “cards” to play, then select your own six lucky numbers or opt for a Quick Pick to let the computer choose the numbers. Bets are from one to five credits — each credit costs a quarter — on each of the cards you’ve selected.

Once you’ve selected your numbers, press Start and a computer program selects six random numbers which pop up across the top of the screen on virtual ping pong balls.

Wins are based on correctly choosing from one to six of those numbers in order, left to right. You also win if you’ve chosen a minimum of three numbers in any order. The more correct numbers you’ve selected — especially if they are in order — the more credits you win.

To help you get a winning combination, in place of some computer-generated numbers is a lightning bolt symbol, which is wild.

Currently, top jackpots range from $1,000 to more than $5,000, but soon Golden Nugget’s four Lightning Lotto machines will be networked and these progressive jackpots will be even greater.

Lightning Lotto is located near the casino’s main entrance, just past Roulette and between the Grotto and Lillie’s.

Ask Mr. AC Casino

Q. I recently went to a family reunion in Ohio and met a distant cousin with a mutual interest in gambling. When we started describing our favorite slot machine, it turned out to be the same one, but we each called it by a different name. I called it K.G. Bird and she called it Jailbird. It certainly sounds like the same machine. Is this possible?

A. It sure is! However, there is one slight difference. While the base game is the same, when it’s combined with a Mr. Cashman feature, the manufacturer calls it by another name. It’s Jailbird when it offers the Mr. Cashman option, but K.G. Bird without. Similarly, Enchanted Forest and Black Rhino are called Mystic Eyes (or Magic Eyes) and African Dusk, respectively, without the Mr. Cashman feature.

Recreational gambler Darryl D. McEwen, a former professional journalist, is president of his own consulting firm that manages several small national and international trade associations, and provides public relations and fundraising services for a number of charitable organizations. Have a comment on this or a question specifically related to an Atlantic City casino, players club or other promotion? Email Mr. AC Casino at MrACCasino@gmail.com and he’ll try to respond to you personally. Your question - without your name - may appear in a future column.