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What happens if you find someone else's credits in a slot machine at your favorite Reno casino? Or, worse, forget to grab your winnings before you move on? Syndicated columnist Mark Pilarski responds to a reader's story who lost his credits at a casino and how the casino handled it. It's great advice for anyone who finds themselves in the same situation.

QUESTION: Your recent column about someone who found credits in a slot machine brought to mind an incident that happened to me a few weeks ago at the MGM Grand in Detroit.

I accidentally left my $97 voucher on the bar. When I came back from the restroom, it was gone. I reported my loss to security. Within an hour, they caught someone on "the eye in the sky" cashing the ticket in. This is one time that I lost my money at a casino and they gave me my money back. — James B.

ANSWER: Contrary to some mailbag responses that didn't quite believe what a casino does with the left behind credits or vouchers, I must reiterate, it really isn't smart customer service for a casino to pocket lost loot.

Returning player winnings to their rightful owner is one of many ways a casino builds on customer loyalty. Heck, handing a player $97 that justly belongs to him can keep him yanking handles in their casino for life.

From the casino's perspective, customer loyalty comes through having a strong relationship with its players.

When a player sees them as a friend and ally, they are reluctant to jump ship to another casino, even if it means they can get a sweeter deal elsewhere. Given the competitive nature of the gambling business, casinos protect their customers as a mother bear does her cubs.

Customers will decide whether to trust a casino based upon their day-to-day behavior. Handing you back your $97 builds on that trust. Make that type of behavior consistent over time — and here is where many casinos fall short — and the management knows you can be counted on as "their" patron.

If their behavior becomes unpredictable, you, the consumer will find another joint to take your money. Getting your $97 back was a no-brainer for the casino.

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