LAND-BASED CASINO REFUSES TO PAY OUT $41.8M JACKPOT

Published on May 11, 2015 in Industry News

Miss Kitty Slot MalfunctionPauline McKee, an 87-year-old grandmother of 13, had a rather disappointing experience recently after playing her favourite penny slot machine at the Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo in Iowa. 

After winning only a very small amount of $1.85 while playing Miss Kitty penny slot in July 2011, a message flashed informing the grandmother that she had won more than $40 million. "The reels have rolled your way! Bonus Award - $41797550.16." 

That's what Pauline and her daughter saw before quickly demanding the large payout from the casino. Casino staff were convinced that something had gone wrong and gave McKee $10 in credits to play other games while they looked into the matter. Eventually the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission were called in to investigate and the machine was sent off for analysis.

Unfortunately, McKee would never see a penny of that money as the casino informed her that it was a computer glitch. In fact, the touch screen rules of the Miss Kitty penny slot informed players that the game did not pay out any bonuses and “malfunction voids all pays and plays.” According to a technical note released in 2010 by the manufacturer, Aristocrat Technologies, the issue was due to a hardware error described as a “rare and unlikely circumstance”.

After being denied the payout, McKee proceeded to sue the casino for breach of contract and consumer fraud in 2012. The argument was that the casino did not have the machine fixed even though they were advised by the manufacturer to discontinue use until having the penny slot could be repaired. After having her case dismissed, McKee appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court. 

Again, McKee was denied her winnings and in the ruling Justice Edward Mansfield wrote, "Any message appearing on the screen indicating the patron would receive a $41 million bonus was a gratuitous promise and the casino’s failure to pay it could not be challenged as a breach of contract. Consider the other side of the coin: Suppose the symbols had aligned so that McKee was entitled to a payout under the rules of the game, but the machine did not inform her of a payout. Would the casino have been obligated to compensate her despite the absence of a notification that she had won? We think so."

It came as no surprise to Pauline though. “I’m not surprised,” said a disappointed McKee. “Most of the people I talked to didn't think the casino would pay me anyway.” She also added that she hasn't gambled since the incident.