Anorak News | Casino Refuses To Pay Out Million Jackpot

Casino Refuses To Pay Out Million Jackpot

by | 25th, October 2007

GARY Hoffman is at the nickel slot machines at the Sandia Resort and Casino on an Indian reservation in New Mexico. It is Aug. 16, 2006 He hits the button. Wheels spin.

“I became ecstatic,” he says. He has just won $1,597,244.10 playing the Mystical Mermaid.

There is much cheering. A man or woman asks for his wallet in marriage. He declines. Why tie himself down. The winner walks home with about $385 and a few free meals at the casino.

“I won money, fair and square, and I’ve been cheated out of my winnings,” Hoffman tells ABC News.

The casino says not. It claims it offered Hoffman the maximum payout of $2,500 for that particular machine. Hoffman says that the machine went into bonus play. The casino says not. The big win was not real. It was a computer error. Thank you, Mr Hoffman, for alerting us to the faulty machine. Enjoy the buffet. Easy on the salmon.

Hoffman is less than delighted. He says a casino employee “became quite intimidating with me, pointed his finger in my face and said, ‘You didn’t win. We’re not paying you any money. Do you understand what I’m telling you? You’re not getting any money.’”

The machine was checked. A technical report showed that the machine’s memory malfunctioned, causing the slot to view a losing spin as a winner. Hoffman had won an “erroneous jackpot.”

“If he had gone into a bank and deposited $1,000 and got back a deposit slip that said a million dollars, he doesn’t get to keep the balance,” says Paul Bardacke, Sandia’s lawyer. “It doesn’t work that way. He knew it was wrong; he knew it was incorrect. That’s why he took a picture of it immediately.”

Hoffman appealed through the tribe’s internal review process but – shock of shocks – he lost. Then he took the casino to court.

But we learn that a jury may never get chance to hear Hoffman’s case. Native American tribes are treated as independent nations. New Mexico law generally does not allow tribes to be sued in a state court over a contract dispute, says Jeremy Kleiman, vice chairman of the commercial gaming subcommittee of the American Bar Association.

Hoffman’s lawyer sees things differently. Says Sam Bregman: “They spent millions of dollars getting these customers, these gamblers, to come in and gamble money, then when someone hits it big, they say, ‘Sorry, we are not going to pay you. The jury is going to be outraged by that.”

Mr Hoffman is single…

Posted: 25th, October 2007 | In: Sports Comment (1) | TrackBack | Permalink