Woman sues Isle after she's denied $42 million from slot malfunction

2012-02-02T15:00:00Z 2012-12-03T15:21:07Z Woman sues Isle after she's denied $42 million from slot malfunctionBy JEFF REINITZ, jeff.reinitz@wcfcourier.com Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

WATERLOO, Iowa --- Lights flashed and bells rang when Pauline McKee pressed the button for the last time on the Miss Kitty slot machine on July 2.

The 87-year-old Illinois resident had been feeding the machine at the Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo for a while.

She lost most of her plays and won a few. Each time she won, the machine credited her account.

On the final push, the machine erupted in a carnival of ringing bells and flashing lights. Isle employees rushed to congratulate McKee on her jackpot and gave her the usual complementary benefits that come with big wins.

"The whole place was excited," said Steve Enochian, a California attorney who represents McKee.

Miss Kitty's screen read $41,797,550.16.

Not bad for a penny slot machine that advertised a top payout of $10,000.

But McKee has yet to collect her winnings.

The Isle didn't pay up after a state investigation ruled the jackpot was caused by a computer malfunction.

McKee isn't backing down. Last week, her attorneys filed a suit against Isle of Capri Casinos, alleging breach of contract and consumer fraud.

The casino company hasn't yet filed a formal response, but Isle officials stand by an Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission investigation that determined the jackpot wasn't valid.

Slot malfunctions are rare at Iowa casinos, said Brian Ohorilko, director of gaming for IRGC.

The commission investigates one or two a year across the state.

Before games are approved for play, they go through a rigourous testing process. Modern slots are computerized and contain chips that control the randomness of the game, Ohorilko said.

"They are computers, so every now and then there will be something like this," Ohorilko said.

According to media accounts, a Colorado woman saw her winnings disappear in 2010 when it was determined her $42.9 million jackpot from a Central City casino slot machine wasn't valid. The same happened with a $166 million slot jackpot at a casino in Tampa, Fla., in 2009.

When problems pop up, casinos and regulators send the machines out for a forensic analysis.

The Miss Kitty machine was analyzed by Gaming Laboratories International, a New Jersey-based company. In an August report, the company said it was "highly likely" the machine's communication board erroneously determined it had a bonus award.

McKee's attorneys argue in court papers that the Isle knew programming updates were available and didn't act on them. Employees also knew they could disable the machine's award bonus capability but didn't, the suit alleges.

Copyright 2015 Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(23) Comments

  1. breeze
    Report Abuse
    breeze - February 10, 2012 8:11 pm
    Another good reason not to gamble. But go ahead people, walk in there and hand them your hard earned paychecks. I'll save my money thank you.
  2. reojoe
    Report Abuse
    reojoe - February 08, 2012 11:42 am
    Gambling isn't even legal in Iowa, so I'm not even sure how this happened.
  3. cubbies08
    Report Abuse
    cubbies08 - February 08, 2012 10:18 am
    Jimbo the max payout on the machine is $10,000. That is it period. It does not matter what comes up, that is the max. Slot machinese have had computer errors for years. No one has ever won a case like this and she won't either. Let me ask you this...say a computer error on your utility bill said you owed $20,000 instead of $200 for the month. Would you expect to pay this?
  4. opinion1986
    Report Abuse
    opinion1986 - February 08, 2012 8:25 am
    I wonder how many times the "computer" malfunctioned and went in the Casino's favor?
  5. Justfortoday
    Report Abuse
    Justfortoday - February 07, 2012 3:03 pm
    If you have ever played slots, you KNOW that their is a release of liability for the casino based on malfunction of the machine (it is posted right on EVERY machine)...however, when that machine was checked it was stated that it was "highly likely" that there was a problem with the computer in the machine. To me...'highly likely' just would not be enough if I were seated on a jury regarding a civil matter such as this. Based on the disclaimer on the machine, she should NOT get anything other than the max 10K which the Isle should have awarded a long time ago as a show of good faith on their part.
  6. Jimbo
    Report Abuse
    Jimbo - February 06, 2012 8:48 pm
    Ya' know, I can see the Isle's point of view; they have the computer controled machines, and the computer controls the randomness and thus the payouts due to the randomness. BUT, how about the little gal or the little guy that sits down and plugs money into the machine that most of them cannot afford, and whom the Isle depends on for their profit day after day. These people, like me, just want a CHANCE to win something that can impact our lives. Normally, we expect to walk home without "the big one", no argument. BUT AGAIN, here is a situation of a person who hit the "BIG ONE"; obviously there was a problem with the limit of the payout; I understand that.

    The spirit of the game, and the life blood of the Casino, is the patron plugs good, hard earned money into the Casino machines and have good faith that they have a fair chance to win. In this instance the Casino claims that the computer failed to the detriment of the patron, so no payout. Obviously this begs the question, how often was the opposite true? How many times should the patron have won but didn't due to computer error?

    In Poker, the cards read themselve; whatever or however you read your cards, by defintion you have the best hand possibe, regardless of what you "thought" you have.

    Same goes here: whatever shows on the screen is the real result, and it should not make a difference if the computer erred or not. The patron takes a gamble on the computer, and so should the house!!!!!!!!!!!
  7. rhead
    Report Abuse
    rhead - February 06, 2012 12:08 pm
    Truthyness - actually, computers seldom if ever make mistakes. Computers do only what the programs running tell them to do. The programs are written by humans. Now a hardware failure is a different issue, but that's not the case here.
  8. Bubbaman
    Report Abuse
    Bubbaman - February 03, 2012 11:47 pm
    10 years ago at an ATM on 23rd st., somehow there were $20 bills in the $5 bill slot. If you withdrew $15, you would get $60 but only be charged the $15. My girlfriend and I both did this 3 times, with a net profit each of $135. She was never charged, but since it was my banks ATM, I recieved a letter a month later stating that they were taking the $135 out of my account. This is a good example of company error, I probably could have fought it but didn't. I do agree though, that it the max payout was $10,000 that is all that should be paid.
  9. foxyparty
    Report Abuse
    foxyparty - February 03, 2012 2:30 pm
    If you have every played a casino slot machine they say computer malfuction voids all payouts right there in fron tof you. She will not win!
  10. cfgolf
    Report Abuse
    cfgolf - February 03, 2012 2:06 pm
    I Scream In The Sun said: "She needs to remember the one universal rule of casinos:The house always wins."

    or that you will smell like smoke when you leave!
  11. bigblklady
    Report Abuse
    bigblklady - February 03, 2012 12:59 pm
    They do check the machines. These machines are not even that old. They replaced their computer systems with new ones a year ago.

    I think she should get the $10,000 max payout also. Things happen, machines break and malfunction all the time. If you look at the top of the machine it will tell you payout lines. So by looking at the payout lines she should have been able to tell herself it was a mistake.
  12. Screenname
    Report Abuse
    Screenname - February 03, 2012 12:13 pm
    But I thought computers were infallible, perfect creations!? That's why we can trust them to do our law enforcement(i.e. speeding and redlight cameras that automatically write tickets). If the casino can use computer error as an excuse, why can't patrons claim that any losses were the results of said error?
  13. cubbies08
    Report Abuse
    cubbies08 - February 03, 2012 9:36 am
    At best she will get $10k and that is all she should get. Her greedy attorney will string it along making her think she will get the whole amount but she will not win a dime more than $10k. Well then minus the legal fees, she will probably walk away with $5k.
  14. 75unigrad
    Report Abuse
    75unigrad - February 03, 2012 8:06 am
    You can't lose if you don't play.
  15. I Scream In The Sun
    Report Abuse
    I Scream In The Sun - February 02, 2012 10:38 pm
    She needs to remember the one universal rule of casinos:

    The house always wins.
  16. truthyness
    Report Abuse
    truthyness - February 02, 2012 9:50 pm
    Talk about frivolous lawsuits. Computers do make mistakes. If your ATM balance said you had $500,000 in your account, would you withdraw it and not expect to repay the bank back when they come after you? Afterall, the computer said you had the money in there. If you were wrongly caught by a traffic camera, would you challenge the ticket? Again, the computer caught you.

    What she should get is the max payout on the terminal, which is $10,000. I'm sure the Isle will pay her more than that and some free nights/meals/shows. Of course, they will get that money back from her in due time.
  17. unipanther
    Report Abuse
    unipanther - February 02, 2012 9:25 pm
    valdez 500 said: "The Isle is at fault!! Thats the chance you take when you are in that business. I believe with all the money they say they bring in it should be a policy that every machine out there is checked and given the ok to stay on the floor every 3 months to avoid this conflict. Trust me she will win this lawsuit, Im not saying the 42 million but it will be at least 1 million."

    The payout was promised to 10,000. If anyone is in the wrong it was the manufacture. She won't get much... Sometimes you don't get what you deserve. We don't get paid interest on our tax refunds -- that was a free loan we essentially just made to the government? Should we? Yes -- we would if we were saving it, but we don't. You just deal.
  18. valdez 500
    Report Abuse
    valdez 500 - February 02, 2012 6:48 pm
    The Isle is at fault!! Thats the chance you take when you are in that business. I believe with all the money they say they bring in it should be a policy that every machine out there is checked and given the ok to stay on the floor every 3 months to avoid this conflict. Trust me she will win this lawsuit, Im not saying the 42 million but it will be at least 1 million.
  19. wloofan2000
    Report Abuse
    wloofan2000 - February 02, 2012 5:10 pm
    It wasn't the isles fault, it was the slot manufacturers fault. If they post that the max win is 10k the they should be happy to get that.
  20. Scott
    Report Abuse
    Scott - February 02, 2012 4:43 pm
    How many times did that machine "malfunction" and take money from the player?
  21. BirthCertificate
    Report Abuse
    BirthCertificate - February 02, 2012 4:34 pm
    The Isle needs to pay up. The machine said the lady won.
  22. Allen
    Report Abuse
    Allen - February 02, 2012 4:26 pm
    This lady will not win her lawsuit. If the game indicated that the maximum payout was $10,000, that is all she should win. Give her another $10,000 due to the mistake and call it good. End of story.
  23. Cedarvalleyfella
    Report Abuse
    Cedarvalleyfella - February 02, 2012 4:00 pm
    Sorry Isle,
    Fair game is fair game. Your mistake.... your dime, not the players fault! She took a chance and played a game, which your machine said she won. She didnt cheat, she played honestly and she won fairly. You take a gamble by having computerized machines that can "malfunction." You really want players to come to your casino if anytime they win a jackpot you can claim a "malfunction?" Even if it was a malfunction the correct, honest, and ethical thing to do is to pay her, if not the millions you should offer a fair settlement. Thats what a business in any other realm would be expected to do.

    If a player makes a "mistake" and hits a 16 on the BlackJack table and busts does he get a do-over and claim it was a mistake?
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Follow the Courier

Most Popular

Design An Ad

Featured Businesses

Deals, Offers & Events

Circulation Specials