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Knowing Vegas: What happens when someone wins big at McCarran Airport?

Home to the third longest airport runway in the United States, McCarran International Airport also is home to something airports outside of Nevada don’t have — slot machines inside the airport.

Positioned to catch the eye of travelers coming in and out of the airport, McCarran has approximately 1,330 machines throughout its three terminals.

McCarran’s slots, which are operated by Michael J. Gaughan Airport Slot Concession Inc., aren’t just a fixture for last-minute Las Vegas-themed photo ops. The airport collects 86.5 percent of the net revenue from the slots. Based on McCarran’s gaming revenue, it raked in $25.6 million for the Department of Aviation during the fiscal year that ended June 30. As a result, McCarran said it was able to replace 1,035 old machines in high-traffic areas.

But what happens when someone hits a jackpot on an airport slot machine?

With about 40 million guests traveling through McCarran each year, it happens fairly often. In 2015, according to IGT, two people have hit million-dollar payouts on the airport’s Wheel of Fortune slots. In March, one lucky winner claimed $1,056,878. Another player hit the jackpot for $1,681,553 earlier this month.

According to the slot concessionaire, when a player believes they have hit a jackpot, the first step in the payout process is to notify the change person on duty. From there, the change person will inform a booth cashier of the potential jackpot amount, the machine number and the location of the slot machine.

In order to claim a jackpot, a slot supervisor must collect two forms of identification from the player, one of which must be a photo I.D. The supervisor will then verify the winning game information and the amount of the jackpot.

Once the jackpot information is verified, the customer is paid immediately and is provided with income tax information (W-2G forms).

Pending proper identification, Airport Slots will not withhold tax for U.S. citizens or citizens in documented U.S. territories. However, in the instance of a foreign jackpot winner, 30 percent of the winnings are withheld unless the customer can provide valid tax exempt credentials.

Once the customer has been given paperwork evidence of their jackpot and a photo of them with the winning game as been taken — with their permission, of course — they can then complete their travel plans, whether that means to begin their vacation or complete their trip home.

Although it doesn’t always occur, the process to payout a jackpot could result in a winner missing their flight and having to reschedule.

But hitting a million-dollar jackpot is probably enough reason to put up with the hassle and headache of coordinating a missed flight.

Contact Caitlin Lilly at clilly@reviewjournal.com. Find her on Twitter: @caitielilly_

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