$43m Slots Jackpot Winner Denied Winnings

slot-machineLately, this seems like a fairly common reoccurrence. Someone wins a mega slots jackpot at a casino, but management gives the lucky (or, unlucky) player the bad news that the slot machine had a software malfunction and there won’t be a payout.

Just recently, a woman was playing the slot machines at Genting’s Resorts World Casino New York when she thought she had struck it rich. The machine showed a winning payout of $43 million. The woman, Katrina Bookman, had her moment of celebration after which the casino staff escorted her off the floor and told her to come back the next day to meet with Genting Casino officials. When she returned, she was given the sad news that the slot machine had malfunctioned and she was owed nothing. But casino officials did offer her a free steak dinner.

The Sphinx Wild slot machine, manufactured by Spielo, only offers a maximum payout of $6500. To make matters worse for Ms. Bookman, the casino’s policy is prominently displayed right on the machine, “malfunction voids all pays and plays.” If the casino won’t pay up, Bookman said they should at least offer her the maximum $6500 “and then I can buy them a steak dinner.” The New York State Gaming Commission supported the casino’s stance and Genting said their decision is not negotiable. Bookman said she may file a lawsuit. Good luck with that.

Bookman has company in her misery. Another woman, in 2014, playing slots at the Blue Chip Casino in Indiana, hit a jackpot worth $29 million. She also got a free steak dinner, but no money.

Other winners who have hit a jackpot courtesy of a software glitch have been more fortunate. A winning precedent has been established in the past against casinos for lawsuits over slot machine payouts. Behar Merlaku, a slots player at the Casino Bregenz in Austria in 2011, thought he won €43 million. Similar explanation, the casino said it was a software glitch and offered him a free meal (probably sheep instead of steak). Merlaku wasn’t buying the glitch explanation and sued. He eventually settled out-of-court for €1 million.

In 2009, at the Sheraton Saigon Hotel’s Palazzo Club, Vietnamese-American Ly Sam thought he was a $55 million winner on a slot machine. The machine actually had a maximum payout of $46k. Naturally, the casino refused to pay and Sam sued. He won the case in 2013, but one year later the verdict was cancelled at the request of both parties. Sam settled out of court for an undisclosed amount, probably over a steak dinner and maybe a little arm twisting.

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