Woman’s Jackpot Winnings Withheld by Ameristar Council Bluffs

  • Tamara Bean won a $1,733 jackpot playing penny slots
  • The casino did not issue winnings, saying she had been banned
  • Bean argues the casino did not prevent her from playing for years
  • The Gaming Commission ruled that the casino has a right to refuse payout
gold coins coming out from behind slot machine reels
An Iowa woman is in a dispute with Ameristar Council Bluffs for its refusal to pay her a slots jackpot. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Previous ban led to denied payout

An Iowa woman had the experience that everyone who puts a coin into a slot machine dreams about: she hit the jackpot. But Tamara Bean has not seen a dime of her winnings, as the casino is refusing to pay her.

Bean played the penny slots at Ameristar Council Bluffs and won a $1,733 jackpot. When she tried to cash out, the casino informed her that she had been banned for marijuana possession in 2002. As a result, she was ineligible to claim her winnings.

Bean says casino allowed her to gamble

Speaking with NBC 6 News in Omaha, Bean was incredulous at the turn of events, and added that

They haven’t shown me anything to state I wasn’t allowed in there.”

Ameristar Council Bluffs disagrees with Bean on that point. The casino insists that it has documentation that she was barred from the premises seventeen years ago. Her signature is on that notice and reads “Tamara Sheffield”, her name before she got married.

Bean made several arguments in her interview with NBC 6. She believes that since she has patronized Ameristar Council Bluffs on numerous occasions with a legal driver’s license showing her as Tamara Bean, there should not have been any problems with her winning a jackpot. She also feels that because the casino granted her a rewards card, it was effectively granting her permission to play.

Cashout triggered identity check

The problem for Bean is that, according to Ameristar, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission says the casino does not have to make sure banned players stay away. It was not until she scored her big cash that Ameristar needed her social security number. In Iowa, slot machine winnings of more than $1,200 are reported by the casino on form W-2G.

Even though Bean has a rewards card, social security numbers are not required to get one. Therefore, with a different name, her earlier ban would not have been pinged.

Gaming Commission backs Ameristar

Adamant that she is owed her jackpot, Bean asked the Gaming Commission to investigate. It ruled that the casino’s decision was “not arbitrary” and was therefore valid.

According to the news report, there was a similar case at Prairie Meadows Casino and Hotel in Altoona, Iowa, in which a previously banned player won $9,000. The Commission said the act of gambling created a contract between the casino and the player. This contract gave the casino the right to keep the customer’s winnings.

Despite the commission’s input and Ameristar’s documentation of her banishment, Bean still believes the casino is freerolling her. She insisted that

They took my money for all these years, so why wouldn’t you give me the money that I legally own?”