KNOW BEFORE YOU GO. You lose MANY of your rights when you visit a Tribal Casino.
Laura (left) and Jill Waters, sisters-in-law, both in their late 50s, have been barred for life from the Pauma Casino. They are considered undesirables and were accused of money laundering.
All sisters-in-law Jill and Laura Waters of San Marcos wanted to do that night in late May was earn enough credits on their Casino Pauma rewards cards to get two free sets of china.
By the end of the evening, they were banished from the casino for life, accused of being money launderers and denied the $2,000 jackpot they had won.
Here’s what happened, according to the women:
It was getting late, and the women had earned enough points playing slots to receive the dishes. They were thinking about leaving until an announcement came over the loudspeakers at midnight about $1 hot dogs. Laura Waters went to get some franks for the two of them. Her card was in a Super 8 Race slot machine, and Jill Waters took her sister-in-law’s place in front of it.
The women said they visit various Indian casinos, share their cards and split their winnings.
On this night, one yellow car, two cars, then eight cars popped up on the slot machine’s screen. It seemed to take forever for the last wheel to stop spinning: another car. Jackpot. $2,000.
“I’d never seen anyone get all nine symbols,” Jill Waters said.
Laura Waters, 62, had returned by then with the hot dogs. Because it was her card in the machine, she took over the spot that Jill had occupied temporarily.
Eventually, a casino worker came over. Laura Waters gave the employee her driver’s license because jackpots surpassing $1,199 must be declared for tax reasons. Fifteen minutes went by before a security agent approached the women and asked who pushed the winning jackpot button, the sisters-in-law remembered.
Jill Waters, 57, said it was she and explained why they later switched seats.
The security agent began shaking his head and repeating the words “malicious intent” and later “seat switching,” the women recalled.
One thing led to another, and finally the women were led to a hallway in the back part of the casino. They were followed by several security guards.
“They remained behind us like a barrier,” Jill Waters said. “I guess they thought two old ladies were going to bolt and make a run for it.”
Then, the women said, they were taken into a locked room.
“The next thing I see was a bench with built-in handcuffs,” Jill Waters said. “This was not a commissioner’s office. It was an interrogation room.”
A guard was posted at the door while another man began filling out paperwork, asking Jill Waters questions such as whether she had any scars or tattoos and what her maiden name was.
“We were uncomfortable but still trying to laugh about it. We were waiting for someone to come in with common sense and explain what was going on,” Jill Waters said. “But no one ever did.”
Their photographs were taken and copies of their driver’s licenses were made, the sisters-in-law recounted.
Hours had gone by when the women had some papers put in front of them. It was explained that by signing the papers, they were acknowledging that they were banned from the casino and could be arrested if they ever tried to re-enter.
FOLLOW US on Twitter @opechanga