Unpaid Casino Jackpots

Unpaid Casino Jackpots

Any casino player dreams of winning the multi-million jackpot. Even if he makes minimum bets and does not play progressive jackpot slots, he cherishes the dream of sudden wealth. Some players come close to tremendous wealth, but luck turns away from them at the last moment. However, it is not always necessary to blame fate, because often it is the casino administration that hinders the way to the jackpot.

So, why do casinos refuse to pay jackpots? Each situation is unique, but you can still distinguish two basic reasons:

  • Malfunction of the casino soft;
  • Client’s fraud.

Let's look at both points briefly.

Video Slot Errors

If a slot crashes at the software or hardware level, all payouts and draw results are canceled. This is a standard procedure specified in the rules of all casinos.

Did you get a message about the ten million jackpot on the screen of a one-cent slot? Do not rush to rejoice. Most likely, this is a program crash for which no one is responsible. Court is useless. The casino operator will call the developer and an independent auditor who will confirm that this is an error, so no one owes anything to you.

Unfortunately, this is the most common situation. The history of gambling knows a lot of similar examples. Later we tell you some of them.

Customer Scam

Scammers have long tried to crack slot machines. Some scammers even manage to hit the progressive jackpots by fooling security service. Not surprisingly, casino operators are suspicious of all winners. If the administration has the slightest doubt about the fairness of the winnings, they freeze the payment for an investigation.

If we are talking about a huge amount, sometimes a minor violation of the rules is enough to make the casino refuse to pay the jackpot out. Next, we will tell about the old woman who lost half a million in a similar situation. The problem was that she won the jackpot with a bet that the previous client left in the slot.

There are cases when casino refuse to pay the winnings to minors. In online casinos, winnings have been repeatedly canceled as soon as it turned out that the client lives in a country where online gambling is prohibited.

What if the Casino Refuses to Pay the Jackpot?

We will give a few recommendations how to behave if the casino administration wants to deprive you of the money won.

  1. In a situation like this, it's hard for you to control yourself, but it is necessary. Do not raise your voice. Do not be rude. That is, do not give grounds for additional quibbles.
  2. Take care of the evidence. Take photos and videos with your smartphone. Engage eyewitnesses. Take a selfie on the background of the slot board with the sum of the jackpot. Immediately upload photos and videos to social networks.
  3. Do not be afraid to call the police. Insist on the presence of law enforcement officers during proceedings with the administration of the casino.
  4. Do not be intimidated. Charges of fraud, stories about the influential owners of the institution, promises of future problems – respond to such statements of the casino administration by calling the police.
  5. Remember that you are not required to retire with the guards in the office space to clarify the circumstances. Security also does not have the right to search you or take away personal belongings.
  6. Do not accept financial compensation, free dinners, and other “handouts”. The court may consider them as the evidence of the compromise achieved.
  7. Seek help from lawyers specializing in such cases.
  8. Refer to the media. Social networks, TV, online forums, and even newspapers and magazines will be happy to grasp the scandalous plot, and no casino needs such advertising.

Even if you fail to get the full amount of the jackpot, the right actions can help to get at least something from the casino operator.

Loud Scandals

Let us recall a few resonant cases on this topic, which were widely reported in the press.

Wind Creek casino, Montgomery

Indian Order

In tribal casinos of American Indians, unpleasant situations with unpaid jackpots often occur. In 2011, Jerry Rape sued the Wind Creek casino located in Montgomery. He filed separate claims for two employees of this institution.

According to Jerry, he played at a video slot with 5-dollar bets and hit a jackpot of $1,4 million. Allegedly, at the same time, one casino worker warned him: "Do not let them deceive you." But he could not avoid trouble.

The administration kept Jerry in the office for almost a day. In response to his protests, he heard only threats and allegations of fraud. The administration then stated that the slot was defective, so Rape would not get paid. From the casino, the man went straight to the lawyer.

The trial lasted until September 2017 and ended bad for Jerry. The Alabama Supreme Court closed the case. It decided that it was not possible to prove the illegality of casino actions. In addition, only federal and tribal laws are in effect on the reservation territory. Thus, lawsuits like this are doomed to a fiasco.

Mr. and Mrs. Jones

On October 31, 1999, William Jones, a construction contractor, and his wife Sharon Jones went to the Fitzgerald's casino. After one of the twenty-five-dollar spins, Sharon almost jumped for joy when she saw three black diamonds on the slot screen. The combination promised her $40,000. But she did not hear any winning sounds, nor the corresponding animation appeared.

According to Sharon, the slot folded the combination without charging a payout. William claims that you can clearly see the jackpot on the recordings from CCTV cameras:

On the videotape, in the casino, they all point their fingers to the slot.

The casino administration said that there was a slot crash, so the Jones cannot claim the jackpot. Later, a representative of the Mississippi Gaming Commission attended the casino and confirmed the legality of the actions of Fitzgerald's casino management.

The couple filed a complaint with Mississippi Gaming Commission, but the commission did not help them. When it came to a lawsuit, the representatives of the casino in a personal meeting said that the institution was owned by the mafia, so it’s not worthwhile to set the course. As a result, the parties reached a compromise, the details of which were not made public.

Katrina Bookman won $42,949,672 in casino

$43 Million Steak!

In November 2016, Katrina Bookman, a single mother of four children, played in the Sphinx slot at Resorts World Casino, Queens, New York. She was lucky and she won $42,949,672, this would be the biggest jackpot in the history of American offline slots.

I can't even describe the feelings, — Katrina recalls. — As if the whole body was numb.

Despite the stupor, the woman did not forget to get a smartphone to capture a joyful moment with a selfie.

At this moment, the joyful part of the story ended for her. Immediately, it turned out that the casino refuses to accrue the payment, indicating an error. In exchange, she was offered dinner with a steak for $2,25, which allegedly relied on her as a prize in fact. Of course, Katrina refused such a “generous” offer, appealed to the media for help and filed a lawsuit.

The Resorts World Administration made a statement, which was voiced by Dan Bank. He apologized for the slot error and stated that the company would not pay the jackpot:

… the casino staff was able to establish that the numbers shown on the cent slot were the result of an obvious malfunction — a fact that was later confirmed by the New York State Gaming Commission.

New York State Gaming Commission agreed with the arguments of the casino, referring to the standard clause rules: "Faulty work cancels all payments and draws". The commission limited itself to deciding to remove the scandalous video slot from the hall and repair it.

Further proceedings have come to nothing. Katrina was left without the jackpot.

90-year-old and $42 Million

Ninety-year Pauline MacKee played the Miss Kitty video slot at the Isle casino with $0,01 bets. In one of the spins, she received a payout of 185 coins ($1,85).

The old woman did not have time to rejoice at a good payout for this bet, as a message appeared on the screen, from which her elderly heart almost stopped. The inscription said that Paulina won a bonus of $41,797,550.16.

However, the rich life experience of an old woman immediately suggested that a mistake was possible:

I had doubts from the very beginning because this is a lot of money for a one-cent slot.

The casino said that the screen message popped up as a result of software failure. The prize was invalidated with the usual wording: “Faulty work cancels all payments and draws”.

Paulina's lawyer filed a lawsuit with the Iowa Supreme Court. Also, Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission was involved in the business. Representatives of the Commission seized the video slot and carefully studied it at the hardware and software level in an independent laboratory. Experts found out that the machine was programmed to a maximum payment of $10,000, so it could not give out almost forty-two million.

The trial lasted several years, but in the end, the court agreed with the casino. Paulina, the grandmother of thirteen grandchildren, did not receive anything beyond the original $1,85 payout. She just said:

I was hoping to help the children financially, but apparently, this was not to be.

Representatives of the casino commented on the situation. The company claims that they encountered a similar error and recommended to casino operators to deactivate bonuses in this model. Obviously, the Isle casino ignored the warning.

Adelaide Casino, Australia

$105,000 Jackpot… Almost…

In 2011, the 75-year-old retired Cecilia Cubillo played in the Australian Adelaide Casino. The one-dollar bet for the Fort Knox slot brought her $105,731 winnings, but instead of being paid, she received fraud charges.

From the recording from CCTV cameras, it can be seen that the woman played for money remaining in the slot after the previous client. This gave grounds for security officials to call her a thief and deprive the jackpot.

According to shocked Cecilia, she doesn't often go to the casino, only when she has a few extra dollars in her wallet:

For me, it was just an entertainment, a recreation. I like the bright lights of the casino.

That day, she had only seven dollars with her. Passing the Fort Knox slot, she saw the remaining unused bet and pressed the start button. Someone's dollar won her more than a hundred thousand.

The casino operator in the hall told the woman that she would be paid by a check, but then a manager appeared, accompanied by security guards. The old woman did not deny that she had played for the money that the previous client had left in the slot, but refused to recognize herself as a fraud:

The manager called me a thief looking for other people's money, and I was scared that they would call the police, who would arrest me… I didn't steal anything. I did not do anything but played on the left by someone bet in the slot, and I was accused of stealing.

A week later, Cecilia returned to the casino with her daughter and asked for an explanation to the manager who controls the slots. The woman was again told that she was not entitled to the jackpot, but for some reason, they offered her a $250 voucher for food and drinks.

If I was not supposed to get the jackpot I won, — Cecilia wonders, — why did they give me a voucher? I have not used it and will not return to the casino anymore.

Subsequently, David Christian, the general director of the Adelaide casino, made an official statement:

The casino rules prohibit visitors from stealing money left on gaming machines… The entire amount of the jackpot was returned to the general pool, and a week later it was legally won by another client.

He called the voucher offered for Cecilia a “goodwill gesture” by the casino.

Sandia casino, USA

To be a Millionaire Within an Hour

Not more than an hour, Gary Hoffman considered himself a rich man. On August 16, 2007, an Albuquerque office clerk played the Mystical Mermaid slot in the Sandia casino. This casino is located on a Native American reservation in New Mexico. After one of the spins, the message about $1,597,244.10 winning appeared on the screen. You understand how the lucky one responded to the win:

I was delighted.

But the triumph of the winner was short-lived. At first, the administration of the casino congratulated the lucky man, but then he was invited to the business premises, where unpleasant news was waiting for him. He learned that such a large payout could only mean a malfunction of the slot because it was programmed to a maximum gain of $2,500.

The casino called an engineer specialist from IGT, which produces this slot. He examined the slot and confirmed the previously voiced version: the announcement of the win was a mistake. As you know, in the event of a slot malfunction, any winnings are canceled. The institution paid to a disappointed customer $385, adding to them a few free lunches.

Hoffman later spoke as follows:

I won the money, honestly and fairly, but the casino deceived me from winning… I was a winner and left empty-handed.

Later, Gaming Laboratories International, the audit company, intervened. And it concluded it was a software failure. Gary tried to get justice in the tribal council and later went to court. But attorneys specializing in such matters claim that he had no chance of getting this jackpot. Casinos on reservations operate according to the specific local Indian law, so such cases are not considered in US courts.

Bill Seebeck won $166 Million Jackpot

$99,000 Instead of $166 Million

Sometimes the casino manages to negotiate with the customer in cases he is entitled to the jackpot but the institution refuses to pay it. In 2009, a similar case occurred at Seminole Hard Rock Casino, Tampa, Florida. This casino belongs to the Seminole tribe.

Bill Seebeck played a slot. One of $1,5-dollar spins ended with the jackpot of $166,666,666.65.

At first, everything was fine. The administration congratulated the client and wrote him a check for the full amount. But then the casino conducted an investigation and found out that an error had occurred at the software level.

The maximum payout in this model could not exceed $90,000, and with the $1,5 bet, the potential gain was limited to $2,500. But the administration of Hard Rock was not even going to part with this money, because it was a question of the slot malfunction canceling the results of the draw.

Seebeck hired a lawyer specializing in the intricacies of the complicated legislation in force on Indian reservations. However, the case did not come to court.

The casino offered Bill $99,000 in compensation, and he agreed.

$80 Instead of $8 Million

Veronica Castillo also thought that the luck smiled at her, but her dreams of wealth broke on the harsh reality. The woman played at the Lucky Eagle Casino, Rochester, WA. The slot showed her a message about winning eight million dollars, but the administration officials were quick to upset Veronica. Later, she told:

They closed the slot, removed it away, printed out a ticket and gave me eighty dollars… As for me, this is a hoax or even a fraud. I immediately thought: “With how many people has this happened? People think they have won, but they leave empty-handed.”

According to John Setterstrom, CEO Lucky Eagle Casino, this is the first case of such a kind in this institution. He claims that there was a malfunction of the device, as a result of which an erroneous message about winning the jackpot appeared on the screen.

This version was confirmed by auditors from the company producing this slot. According to the technical characteristics of the model, it cannot pay out more than twenty thousand winnings, and with the bet Veronica played, the limit is six thousand dollars.


Such stories discourage us. Due to such cases, we lose confidence in specific casinos and the entire gambling industry.

In most cases, it is really a question of software errors, but this does not ease the disappointed customers. We would like gambling operators and slot manufacturers to be responsible for such malfunctions in the devices’ operations. Mandatory compensations would make them take a more responsible attitude towards testing equipment operability.

In online casinos, the denial of a prize payment is also not uncommon. Often, Internet portals do not credit winnings to a client’s account and block accounts, accusing clients of breaking the rules. To avoid such misunderstandings, read our articles on how to choose an honest casino, how to register and play for money there.

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