Moral dilemma - gambling related

Thread title carefully designed for maximum diversity of respondents :).

Last Saturday, after England’s disappointing (for me) result against USA in the World Cup, I went to my local casino to play blackjack. After being up and down for a couple of hours, I was £100 up and ready to leave. I was getting bored and tired, so I decided to throw this £100 chip on to an even chance roulette bet, and then go home, so that either I would end the night £200 up, or even (let’s not debate the logic of that in this thread, or indeed the wisdom of gambling at all).

I placed my chip on 19-36, and the ball fell into the 4 pocket, but I continued to chat casually to a friend of mine who was also playing at the table. After a short while, it became clear that the dealer was not going to remove my chip. I decided that it wouldn’t be right for me to take the chip away, so I let it ride for the next spin. Of course, this time it came in, at which point I took the £200 off the table and went to buy my friends a beer in (discreet) celebration.

Now, at the time, having had 4 beers that evening, it seemed like a great victory, but now I’m not so sure. It seems to me that what I did was little better than outright stealing. After all, I would not have hesitated to claim my win had the dealer not noticed a winning bet, so why should I benefit from the dealer missing a losing bet? On the other hand, I probably shouldn’t worry too much about it. Having said that, there is also the small (but non-zero) possiblilty that the casino will check their cameras and spot what happened, which could easily get me banned (or worse).

So, lacking in my own moral compass, I turn to you, the SDMB, with some poll options. I think they are all more or less reasonable, but I will post my own thinking about them in the next post - please respond before reading this, thanks

I agree, what you did was little better than stealing. No, I don’t think it makes you morally repugnant and I think you should enjoy your winnings. I would.

As promised, see below for my thoughts on each option:

[spoiler]Option 1: keep the money - while this is the most seductive option, as I said it is little better than stealing. In most matters I consider myself a fairly amoral person, but I do believe in the “do unto others” etc philosophy. One could argue that the casino has taken much of my money over the years, and £100 is not going to hurt a faceless corporation, but that is hardly the point, IMO.

Option 2: charity - at first this seems like the ultimate “get out” option, but I’m now not so sure. After all, why should a charity benefit from the casino’s money without their consent (and would some charities want it)? It seems to me that this should not be my call to make. If I were to pursue option 5, and the manager suggested I give the money to charity, that would make it OK, I think. One option that I forgot to include in the poll was to leave the £100 as a tip to the dealer. This has the same defects as this option, though, and would also arouse suspicion immediately.

Option 3: gamble it away quickly - I inserted this option as it does achieve the goal of returning the money to its rightful owner. On the negative side, this takes time, and it also does not eliminate the possibility of the casino noticing the original mistake and pursuing that later. In addition, I cannot see the point of gambling to lose.

Option 4: gamble it away slowly - this suffers from the same flaws as option 3, but I included it because I know that some people can enjoy just spending an hour or two at the casino, even if they lose a small amount of money. Personally, this does not appeal to me, though.

Option 5: speak to the manager - this is the option I am leaning towards at the moment. It seems to me to be the right thing to do. On the downside, it could put the manager in a difficult position, as there is unlikely to be a procedure to deal with it. There could also be repercussions for me (though I think this unlikely), and there is the (small) risk that the manager simply takes the money for themselves.

Option 6: combination - I can foresee some people arguing to, say, give 50% to charity and keep 50%. To my mind, such compromises, while superfically appealing, are unsatisfactory, as if there is a “right” answer to this, it is probably correct to follow this 100%.

Option 7: other - I would be very interested in other viewpoints that I haven’t thought of.[/spoiler]

It’s a fucking casino.

  1. The odds are stacked in their favour to begin with.
  2. You think they’ll miss 100 pounds?
  3. It’s a fucking casino!

I would have certainly pointed out an error to a clerk or anyone else really, but not a casino. No moral ambiguity on that one for me.

Agreed on Points 1 and 3. #2 is irrelevant. If you had made a mistake and called for a hit when you had 17 in your hand, do you think the dealer would have talked you out of it? You did nothing wrong. It’s the house’s responsibility, in the form of the dealer, to make sure that the proper bets are paid off and that the rest are picked up. Nothing falls to you in this instance. Have a few beers “on the house” as it were and go home with a light heart.

Reasonably frequent recreational gambler here: human error is part of the equation in running a casino. Casinos know that dealers are human, and humans make mistakes. You clearly were not in cahoots with the roulette dealer, and it was clearly the dealer’s mistake. I wouldn’t feel bad about the winnings.

Here’s another way to look at it: casinos accidently “gain” (steal) from players all the time (I know from experience). That is, again, not maliciously but my accident/oversight, dealers make mistakes that favor the casino as well. Is it caught by the cameras ? Probably. Do they go to lengths to rectify the error ? Not that I’ve seen.

So given that dealers are human, and humans make mistakes, I think it balances out in the long run. If anything, should you ever find yourself on the losing end of a dealer mistake, don’t make such a big fuss about it since you’ve already benefitted from this other mistake.

The thing is, it seems to me that argument boils down to “Casinos are morally bankrupt, therefore anything that goes against them is a good thing.” Apologies if I’m misrepresenting you with that summary, but I don’t buy it. If you wish to protest against the morality of casinos, the thing to do would be not to go. It would not be right to try to cheat the casino out of money. I know that you are not suggesting I follow either of these courses, however.

Well actually, a lot of dealers would - I have seen it happen that a dealer will virtually do just that (or indeed the reverse, such as encouraging someone to hit on soft sixteen). But I think this addresses a slightly different point, anyway.

By the way, I have invested more time in writing up this thread than agonising over what I should actually do. Whatever I decide, I’m not going to get torn up about it. Having said that, although I do not really believe in “karma”, I think I may get a better feeling from trying to return the money than the feeling from keeping the £100.

I’m a dealer in a casino and I say keep it. It is odd, though, normally managers are all over black action so it’s strange it wasn’t caught. What were the table limits?

If they didn’t catch it at the time I wouldn’t worry about it. Going back would do nothing but cause drama. Donate it to charity if your conscience is getting to you.

It’s a business transaction. If someone wants to sell you something for $1 that’s worth $101, then that’s their business. That’s essentially what happened here.

I was thinking pretty much what Rand Rover wrote, but he beat me to the punch. Keep it.

This is a very interesting option, and exactly the sort of alternative perspective I was looking for. However, I would have to be VERY drunk to not notice a dealer error against me, or accidentally leave large chips behind, and it would be very hard to deliberately not challenge such a thing. This is especially true given that like all gamblers, sometimes I am up and sometimes I am down, and if I were down and an error was made against me, I don’t think I could just let it go on the basis that I have already benefitted from an error the other way.

It would have been either a 50p/£1 minimum bet table (for singles - £5 minimum for even chances), so £100 is fairly large in that context. However, the casino is set up such that the manager looks after 4 roulette tables and card tables simultaneously, so obviously they were not watching my table at the time (and nor was the dealer!). Given this, is it more likely that the review all the CCTV footage, or is this only used in the event of a dispute/more major incident? What are the chances that the dealer will get punished?

Not too concerned about my conscience, but may give it to charity anyway because that’s a “nice” thing to do. But my argument in post #3 still applies - why should the charity get it rather than the casino?

I think “want” is the key word here - they clearly did not “want” to give me £100 for nothing. For example, if a television in a shop is marked as $4.00 instead of $400, it is obvious that this is a simple mistake, and to me it would be wrong to try to argue that the shop should sell it to me for $4.00.

Or, to use a similar example that happened to me last week: I went to buy a suit that was marked down to £129 from £199. The assistant scanned the items and told me the total was £69. Like a fool, I queried this (I have worked in retail and did not want him to get into trouble, and besides, at £129 it was already a bargain), but on a second attempt it still came to £69, so I paid and left. In this scenario, I feel perfectly comfortable with my actions because I gave the store a chance to rectify what looked like a mistake. That’s probably why I feel I should do the same here.

One further thought (and yes, I know I am already making a bigger deal of this than perhaps I ought, and the following would increase that further): if I went for option 5, would a savvy casino manager be wise to try to turn it into a story for the local newspaper? I’m thinking along the lines of they let me keep the money as it’s good publicity, and I give it to charity whilst plugging my company, and everybody wins? Not sure how I feel about this possibility (and it is a slim chance anyway)!

Its gambling…you won, walk away.

  1. Correct, the odds are stacked against you, so the smart thing says not to gamble.
  2. The won’t miss 100 pounds. But they still play by the rules.
  3. It IS a fucking casino. It is also a fucking business, and it is also their money, once the losing number came up.

Why do people think that just because people are stupid enough to lose money in a casino, it’s ok for everyone else to literally steal from it?

I have real issues with casinos. I don’t go to them as they make a habit of barring players who do “too well” even when abiding by the rules. This strikes me as fundamentally unfair; if a casino wants to ensure the house advantage, they should just stop offering games like blackjack where skill can tip the odds toward the player. They have no problem taking thousands of dollars in player losses, but heaven forbid someone with great discipline beats them at their own game. The concept of “chumps only” that casinos are allowed to abide by is analogous to a retail store barring conscientious coupon users, the most assiduous of whom are almost certainly causing the store to operate at a loss. That the “system” favors the casinos in the former instance but the shopper in the latter is dumbfounding, especially when one figures in that no one ever lost their life savings shopping in Wal-Mart. (Well, not many, anyway.)

Dead Cat = Robin Hood. Take the money.

I said donate the UKP 100 to charity. But really, to even the karmic scales, you should donate UKP 200. That would put you in the position in which you would have been had you informed the croupier of his mistake.

This is sheer lunacy. A dealer at a casino forgot to remove your chip, resulting in you walking away with an extra £100, and you’re seriously entertaining the idea of talking to the manager and asking if the casino would like its money back? Just take the 100 and buy yourself another round.

I more or less agree with this.
What you did WAS dishonest. However, the casino won’t miss the 100 pounds, and probably wouldn’t know what to do with it if you actually came in there (except pocket it themselves?). Personally, I think the right choice is to forget it with the understanding that you did was dishonest, and promise yourself that if you don’t have integrity, you’re not worth too much.

Ah, I was wondering if anyone would make this argument. The reason that I have discounted it is because had the dealer taken my orginal losing bet, I could easily have placed a new £100 chip in the same spot, won, and ended up even. In fact, that is effectively what happened, except I also got to keep the original losing bet of £100. So I am only £100 ahead in the transaction, not £200. Sure, it would be a nice gesture to give all my gambling winnings to charity, but I already give a fair percentage of my income to charity anyway, and the charity is hardly going to underwrite my gambling losses :).

I would rather have integrity than money, on the whole. So if what I did was dishonest, it would be wrong to keep the money. On the other hand, I’m not sure anyone in the same situation would actively draw the dealer’s attention to the losing chip. Indeed, if the same thing ever happens to me again, I’m not sure I would act any different!

Have you considered that there may have been some rule of which you were not aware that meant that the bet was deliberately left? And that therefore your win was legitimate?

This is what I was going to ask as well. I’m not very familiar w/ roulette but most games have some sort of “push” outcome. Possibly that’s what happened here?