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Olk v. United States

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
536 F.2d 876 (1976)


Craps dealers at a Las Vegas casino sometimes received a form of money referred to as tokes from a small percentage of craps players. Under casino rules, the dealers were forbidden from performing any special service that might prompt the giving of a toke as compensation for a dealer’s special service to the player. The casino tolerated toke-giving, but required dealers to divide toke receipts equally. One dealer, Wendell Olk (plaintiff), received $10 a day in tokes at one casino, and $20 a day at another. Olk sued the federal government (defendant) for the refund of his portion of income tax paid on these tokes. The district court found that tokes did not constitute compensation for a dealer’s services, but resulted from a player’s impulsive, detached, and disinterested generosity or superstition based on the belief that giving a toke invoked good luck. The district court ruled for Olk, and the federal government appealed.

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