Any casino visitor dreams of winning a multi-million dollar jackpot. Even if he or she makes the lowest bets and does not approach slot machines with numerous zeros on a special panel, there is a desire to instantly become rich deep in his or her mind.
Some gamblers almost grasp a huge fortune, but something happens at the end. However it is not always worth blaming on fortune, because often the casino administration does not want to give up on the jackpot.
Why Do Casinos Refuse to Pay out Jackpots?
Each situation of that kind is unique, but there are two basic reasons:
Illegal deeds of customers.
Let's briefly discuss both causes.
Errors of Video Slots
If there are any software errors, all payouts and outcomes of draws are canceled. This is a standard practice mentioned in the rules of all casinos.
Do you have a message about a ten-million-dollar jackpot on the screen? Hold your horses. This is a software error and no one will be responsible for it. It is useless to file a lawsuit. The operator will engage the provider and independent auditors. They will confirm that the error has occurred, so there are no financial claims to be satisfied.
Unfortunately, this is the most common situation. The history of gambling knows a lot of such examples. Some of them are described below.
Scammers have long been trying to hack slot machines. Some fraudsters even have managed to hit jackpots, making a fool of the security services. No wonder that gambling operators are suspicious of all the winners. If they have any doubts about your fairness and honesty, they will delay the payout and launch an investigation.
If a huge amount of money is drawn, sometimes even an insignificant violation of the rules is sufficient for the casino to refuse to pay out the jackpot. You can find a story about an old woman who lost one and a half million in our article below. The mischief of it is that she won that amount playing the slot game using a bet made by the previous customer.
It has been reported about some cases when gambling facilities have refused to pay money to the visitors under the age of majority. Winnings were repeatedly canceled at online casinos, as soon as it became clear that the customers resided in the countries where Internet gambling was banned.
What Should You Do if a Casino Does Not Want to Pay?
We want to share some recommendations on how to behave if casinos don't want to pay out your winnings.
In such a situation, it's difficult to control yourself, but you have to. Do not raise your voice. Do not be rude. To put it simply, do not afford grounds for extra accusations.
Try to collect evidence. Take photos and videos on your smartphone. Try to find eyewitnesses. Do selfies against the background of the inscription with the jackpot amount. Upload them at once on social networks.
Don't be afraid to call the police. You should even insist on calling the representatives of the law enforcement forces.
Do not be afraid of threats. You should no react on accusations of fraud, stories about crime lords who own the gambling facility, or hints at future problems. If you face such situation, just call the police.
Keep in mind that you do not have to go with the security staff to the back rooms for on-the-spot checks. They also do not have the right to conduct a search of you or take your personal things.
Do not accept any compensation, free dinners, or other gifts. On trial they can be considered as evidence of a compromise achieved by two parties.
Address the lawyers specializing in such trials.
Draw attention of the media to your situation. Social networks, television, online publications, printed newspapers and magazines will gladly seize a chance, and casinos do not need such advertising.
Even if you fail to get your jackpot, your correct behavior will help you to obtain at least something from the gambling operator.
Let's recall some celebrated cases which were mentioned in the media.
American Indian Practices
Unpaid jackpots are not uncommon for tribal casinos of Native Americans. In 2011, Jerry Rape sued the casino called Wind Creek and located in Montgomery. He filed separate lawsuits on two employees of the gambling venue.
According to Jerry, he played a video slot game making the bets in the amount of five dollars and hit the jackpot of $1.4 million. Then one casino employee warned him: "Do not let them deceive you." And this happened.
Jerry was kept in the back room for almost 24 hours. In response to his protests, he heard threats and accusations of fraud. Then representatives of the administration informed him that the slot machine had been defective, so Rape would not get his payout. So, he went directly to the lawyer.
The trial continued till September 2017 and was unsuccessful for Jerry. The Supreme Court of Alabama closed the file. The court found that it was impossible to prove that casino actions were illegal. In addition, only federal and tribal laws are valid on the territory of the reservation. Thus, lawsuits like that are doomed to fail.
Mr. and Mrs. Jones
On October 31, 1999, William Jones, a construction contractor, and his wife Sharon Jones went to the Fitzgerald's casino. One of the spins with the bets in the amount of twenty-five dollars made Sharon nearly jumped for joy, since she saw three black diamonds on the screen of the slot machine. This combination should have allowed them to obtain $40,000. However there were no corresponding sound or animation effects that usually accompany winning spins.
According to Sharon, the slot machine showed the combination without providing the payout. William argues that the jackpot size can be clearly seen on the surveillance cameras:
On the security camera, the excessive attention to that slot machine was observed.
The administration of the gambling facility informed the spouses that it was an error of the slot machine, so they would not get the jackpot. There was a representative of the Mississippi Gaming Commission in the casino who confirmed the legitimacy of the actions of Fitzgerald's casino administration.
The couple lodged a complaint against the casino to the Mississippi Gaming Commission, but the commission did not help them. When it came to a lawsuit, representatives of the casino stated at a personal meeting that the gambling facility was owned by the mafia. So, the spouses were recommended not even to give it a second thought. As a result, the parties reached a compromise whose details were not covered in the media.
A Steak Instead of 43 Million Dollars!!!
In November 2016, Katrina Bookman, a single mother of four children, played on the Sphinx video slot at Resorts World Casino in Queens, New York. One of the spins brought her $42,949,672, which could have been the biggest jackpot in the history of American offline slots.
I cannot even describe my feelings, - Katrina said. I nearly fainted.
Despite her numbness, she did not forget to take a smartphone in order to capture the joyful moment in the epic selfie.
However her joy soon came to the end. It turned out that the casino refused to pay out her winning due to the error. In return, she was offered to take a dinner with a steak and $2.25, which had been supposed to win. Needless to say, Katrina refused such a "generous" offer, addressed the media for help and filed a lawsuit.
Dan Bank, a representative of the Resorts World, made a statement. He apologized for the error of the slot and said that the company would not pay out the jackpot:
The casino staff managed to establish that the numbers had appeared on the one-cent slot as a result of an obvious error. This fact was subsequently confirmed by the New York State Gaming Commission.
The New York State Gaming Commission agreed with the arguments of the casino, referring to the standard provision of the rules: "Defects in the equipment make all payouts and draws cancelled." The commission decided to remove the defective video slot from the hall and fix it.
Further considerations were in vain. Katrina got nothing.
Ninety-year-old Granny and 42 Million Dollars
Pauline MacKee, a ninety-year-old lady, played on the Miss Kitty video slot at Isle Casino owned by Aristocrat. Her chips cost $0.01. One of the spins allowed her to win 185 coins ($1.85).
No sooner the old woman celebrated a quite good winning for her than an inscription appeared on the screen informing that Paulina had won the bonus of $41,797,550.16.
However her gut feeling indicated that something was wrong:
She had doubts from the beginning, since the amount of the jackpot was too high for the one-cent slot.
The casino administration stated that the screen message had shown up as a result of a software error. The jackpot was declared cancelled with the traditional explanation: "Defects in the equipment make all payouts and draws cancelled."
Paulina's lawyer filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court of Iowa. At the same time, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission was involved in this affair. Its representatives seized the video slot and carefully studied it at the level of hardware and software in an independent laboratory. The specialists found that the slot machine had been adjusted for the maximum payout of $10,000, so it was impossible to win almost forty-two million in this slot.
The trial lasted several years, but eventually the court supported the casino. Paulina, a grandmother of thirteen grandchildren, did not receive anything except for her initial payout of $1.85. She just said:
I hoped to financially support my children but the fate decreed otherwise.
The situation was commented on by the representatives of Aristocrat. The company stated that they had already faced such errors and the operators had been recommended to inactivate bonuses in this model. Isle Casino has obviously ignored this warning.
$105 000 Was at Arm's Length
In 2011, Cecelia Cubillo, a 75-year-old retired old lady, played in the Australian Adelaide Casino. Her one-dollar bet brought her $105,731 on the Fort Knox video slot, but instead of getting the payout, she was accused of fraud.
On the surveillance cameras, it was clearly visible that the woman had wagered the credit left in the slot machine from the previous customer. This gave reason for the security service to accuse her of cheating and to deprive her of the jackpot.
According to Cecelia, she attends casinos from time to time when she has a couple of extra dollars in her wallet:
It is just a kind of entertainment for me. I enjoy contemplating casino lights.
That day she had only seven dollars. Walking past the Frot Knox video slot, she saw one remaining credit and pressed the button. This dollar brought her more than one hundred thousand dollars.
The operator told her that she would get her payout, but then the manager accompanied by the security staff appeared. The old woman did not deny that she had played making a bet using the money of the previous customer, but she refused to agree with the accusation of fraud:
She called me a thief looking for someone else's credits, and I was scared that they would call the police, which arrest me... I did not steal anything. I did nothing bad. I just played using the credit of the previous client, and I was accused of stealing.
A week later Cecelia returned to the casino with her daughter and asked the manager who was responsible for monitoring slot machines to provide explanations. The woman was told that she would not obtain the jackpot, but for some reason they offered her a $250 voucher, which allowed her to pay for food and drinks.
If nothing was provided for me, - Cecelia wondered, - why did they give me this voucher? I've not used it and will never return to that casino.
David Christian, General Manager of Adelaide Casino, made an official statement:
The established rules prohibit visitors from stealing credits left by gamblers when playing slots... The entire amount of the jackpot was returned to the pool, and a week later it was legally won by another customer.
Cecelia's voucher was called a goodwill gesture from the casino administration.
One Hour Spent as a Millionaire
Gary Hoffman thought he was rich only for an hour. On August 16, 2007, Gary Hoffman, an office employee from Albuquerque, played on the five-cent Mystical Mermaid slot at Sandia Casino. It is located on the territory of the Native American reservation in New Mexico. After one of the spins, a message informing on winning $1,597,244.10 showed up on the screen. It is not difficult to guess how the lucky gambler reacted on his victory:
I was really excited.
The winner's celebration was short-lived. Initially, the casino administration congratulated the lucky gambler, but then he was invited to the back room to hear unpleasant news. He found out that such a large payout could only indicate an error of the slot machine, because it had been adjusted to pay out at most $2,500.
The casino invited a specialist from IGT, which had released this slot. He examined the slot machine and confirmed the version stated earlier: The message about the payout was a mistake. According to the rules, if slots are defective, any winnings are canceled. The disappointed customer received only $385 and several lunches from the gambling facility.
Hoffmann made the following statement later:
I won the money in the honest and fair way, but I was deceived and deprived of my payout... I was the winner, but it was left empty-handed.
Then the audit organization called Gaming Laboratories International interposed in that matter. According to its audit, the problem was caused by a software error.
Gary tried to find justice in the tribal council, and later filed a lawsuit. However the lawyers specializing in such issues argue that he has no chance of getting the jackpot. Native American gambling facilities operate in accordance with the special Native American legislation, so that such trials are not under the jurisdiction of US courts.
$99,000 Instead of $166 Million
Sometimes casinos manage to make an agreement with the customer whom the gambling facility refuses to pay out the jackpot. Such case occurred in 2009 at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Tampa, Florida. It is owned by the Seminole tribe.
Bill Seebeck played a video slot game. One of the spins with a bet of 1.5 dollars brought him the jackpot whose amount reached $166,666,666.65.
Everything seemed to be OK. The administration congratulated the customer and offered him a check for the entire amount. However the casino conducted an investigation and found out that there was a software error.
The maximum payout in this model could not exceed $90,000, and taking into account the Bill's bet size, the potential payout was limited to $2,500. However the Hard Rock administration did not intend to pay out even that amount, since it was a slot-related error, which cancelled all outcomes.
Seebeck hired a lawyer specializing in the intricacies of the complicated legislation valid in Native American reservations. However the trial did not take place.
The casino offered compensation in the amount of $99,000 to Bill and he agreed to accept it.
$80 Instead of $8,000,000
Veronica Castillo also thought that the Lady Luck had smiled at her, but the dreams of wealth did not come true. The woman gambled at the Lucky Eagle Casino in Rochester, Washington.
The video slot pleased her with eight million dollars, but the casino administration disappointed her. Later she told the following story:
They closed the slot, removed it, printed out the ticket and gave me eighty dollars... I firmly believe that this can be considered a fraud. I asked myself: "How many people have already experienced such problems? They think they have won, but they have to leave empty-handed."
According to John Setterstrom, CEO of Lucky Eagle Casino, this was the first such case in their gambling house. He stated that there was a software error, which resulted in the appearance of the error message on the screen.
This version was confirmed by the audit company that had evaluated the video slot. According to the technical characteristics of the model, it cannot pay out over twenty thousand dollars. Taking into account the Veronica's bet, the upper limit was six thousand dollars.
Such stories are discouraging. They result in the loss of trust in particular casinos and the entire gambling industry.
In most cases, such misunderstandings are due to software errors, but this cannot be considered a consolation for frustrated customers. Gambling operators and slot providers should bear responsibility for such software errors. Compulsory compensations would make them have more responsible attitude towards checking the integrity of their software.
It is not uncommon that online casinos refuse to pay out winnings. Internet portals do not accrue winnings and block accounts, accusing customers of violating the rules. To avoid such misunderstandings, read articles on the Casinoz portal on how to choose a reliable casino, how to properly register and gamble.