When Rivers Casino changed the rules…

I currently spend my Wednesday nights playing trivia at Rivers Casino in Schenectady.  They have a nice game, there’s plenty of decent competition, and I often finish in the top three teams more times than not.

Now what this means is – when you finish in the top three at Rivers Casino, you receive a gift card, which you can take over to the cash cage and redeem for money.  And first prize at Rivers Casino’s trivia event is $100.

This works for me.  Heck, there were plenty of nights that that extra hunskie helped pay down my car loan.

Last week, I won the big prize, and immediately went over to the cash cage with my gift card.

“Hi,” I smiled, handing the card to the attendant.  “I’d like to cash in this card, please.”

“I’m sorry, sir, we can’t do that.”


Let me repeat that.  ????

“It’s okay, I won the card at trivia, you’ve cashed them before.  I can show you my ID if you need it.  I can even show you my Rivers Casino player’s card if that would help.”

“Let me call my manager,” the attendant said.

Another man approached the cage to talk to me.  “You won this?”

“Yes sir, I did.  Over at the trivia game.”

“We’re not supposed to cash these out.  I’ll do it for you this time, but you’re not supposed to cash these for money.”

Okay, now this is getting … strange.

After he handed me the $100 bill, I asked him, “Okay, what’s going on here?  I’ve been playing the Rivers Casino trivia game for the past six months.  And I’ve brought several gift cards over to the cash cage, and there’s never been a problem turning these into currency.”

“I understand, sir,” the manager said, “but the gift cards are only supposed to be used for food and amenities at the casino.  You can’t use them for gambling.”

He then showed me – in very … fine … print …the back of the gift card’s legal text.  Which essentially said that I could use the gift cards for food at the casino’s various restaurants, I could use the gift card for their wellness spa, and I could use the gift card for their luxury hotel.  But that’s it.

Well, that blows.

I mean, I understand what’s going on.  The gift card was originally designed to stimulate trade in the casino – to allow patrons to enjoy “the good life” and to “live like a high roller” or whatnot.

I get it, I really do.  This isn’t a slot machine win, which is totally random.  And it isn’t a table game, which has some mixture of skill and luck.  This is competitive team trivia, which has more skill than luck.

Now granted, the trivia game at Rivers Casino does have a quarterly $1,000 game, and that prize is good old fashioned United States legal tender.

But gift cards that are gift cards and are not cash cards … hmm…

Last night, I came in third place at the trivia game at Rivers Casino, and claimed a $25 gift card.  The second-place team, Teachers … Kinda, claimed a $50 card, while another squad, calling themselves the Polish Five, won the big prize.

Personally, I figured that I could just save my gift cards, and maybe one night rent out a hotel room and live like a Vegas whale for the evening.  Even if it’s really Schenectady and it’s a hotel near the Mohawk River.  So instead of a whale … maybe I’m living like a sunfish.

As I was leaving the trivia game, I chatted with the Teachers …. Kinda team.

They were not happy about the new rule regarding the gift card prizes.

“How are we going to split a gift card among four people?”

Yeah.  For me, a gift card is a gift card, and I can share it with my left arm and my right arm.  But if I have teammates… what am I supposed to do?  Cut the card in sections and give each person a section?

But hey, a gift card is a gift card, and I shouldn’t look a gift card in the mouth.  These are essentially now free food for me – a $25 gift card covers two meals for me at Rivers, so there’s that.

But still … Rivers Casino has to do better than this.