More Casinos Succeeding With The 'That Jackpot You Won Was Really A Computer Glitch' Claim

from the doesn't-seem-right dept

Over the years, we've seen a bunch of stories about people winning computerized games in casinos, only to be told that the prize was a glitch, and the casino wouldn't pay (or wouldn't pay nearly as much). It seems to happen pretty damn frequently. Slashdot points us to the latest example, of a couple who thought they had won $11 million from a slot machine, only to have the award reduced to $1627.82 after the casino, and the state gaming authority, determined that it was a glitch. According to the casino:
"The $11 million was what we call a 'reset value.' It's what the jackpot would have been after the prize was claimed."
That article notes that a similar situation happened back in March, with a $42 million prize being taken away. Given how frequently this seems to happen, isn't it about time someone got to working on all these "glitches"?


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    Ima Fish (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 12:32pm

    To me there should be a law that any glitch should be determined against the casino. To me it makes no sense that any "win" can be appealed to a state gaming authority, which is packed with casino cronies, to have it taken away.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 12:44pm

      Re:

      In some (if not many) cases the slot machine actually lists a maximum jackpot. So if you get a jackpot above that, then you should know something is wrong. I'm not sure if that happened in this case.

       

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        Ima Fish (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 12:58pm

        Re: Re:

        I don't program software, but how hard would it be to program something like: If result is greater than maximum amount awarded, give error message and return money.

        If the casino cannot hire someone to program correctly, it should be their loss. They can always obtain insurance to cover their a$$es.

         

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        Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 12:59pm

        Re: Re:

        "The $11 million was what we call a 'reset value.' It's what the jackpot would have been after the prize was claimed."

        would suggest to me that the prize could be much higher. Like how the powerball has a reset value of $20 mill.

        The casino missed out on an opportunity here. Vary publicly call it a glitch and pretend to man up by giving the person the $11mill, then vary quietly fix the glitch. This way you get millions more people coming in hoping to cash in on that now non-existent glitch. They don't even have to give the full amount. A few million would do just fine.

        The way it is now, a lot of people won't go believing that even if they did win big, it would be taken away. And how long until the smaller winnings get called glitches and get taken away?

         

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      interval (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 1:23pm

      Re:

      @imadoof: "To me there should be a law that any glitch should be determined against the casino."

      Why do you think there isn't? Do you think you're the first to have thought of such a law? Those lobbyists are worth every penny the casinos pay them.

       

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      loren, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 2:20pm

      Re: glitches

      oh? and what if the glitch says that they won 100 billion dollars, or more money than the national GDP of the entire country, or more money than even exists? surely the casino has a right to not pay ridiculous sums.

      and furthermore, the user of the slot machine should know, before taking his first spin, what the maximum jackpot could be, and therefore can't demand the casino to honor sums that exceed that displayed jackpot.

       

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        Vincent Clement, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 5:31pm

        Re: Re: glitches

        And furthermore, the Casino should program it's slot machines so that the displayed jackpot does not exceed the maximum jackpot of the machine.

        And furthermore the gaming authority should require Casino's to program their slot machines to do so.

         

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        Scootah (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 6:25pm

        Re: Re: glitches

        Strangely enough, the people who program ATM's manage to not give out erroneous ammounts of money terribly often. They actually have quality control on their software development process. Gaming isn't exactly alow profit industry that would struggle to remain afload if required to invest in their own quality control standards.

         

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      scootah (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 6:22pm

      Re:

      This seems like the only logical response to me. Legislate a requirement that gaming technology errors in favour of the consumer be honoured in full.

      Maybe then the vendors will start actually developing quality products.

       

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    fogbugzd (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 12:43pm

    More than $11 million worth of bad publicity

    I think the entire gaming industry just bought it self more than $11 million dollars worth of bad publicity.

    These companies should man-up for their mistakes and pay. If they couldn't afford to pay the full $11 Meg, they should have at least made an offer of a gee-whiz amount (something more than $1500, certainly). Settling up for a million or even a hundred thousand would have been a good move from a PR standpoint.

    There should be an industry insurance or bonding system that pays up for glitches like this. Everyone would pay in and agree to abide by certain quality control standards. Payments would stay pretty low as long as a company didn't have any claims, but once they did their premiums would go way up. That would create some incentives to avoid shortcuts that lead to glitches, and it would create some industry watchdog groups who have an interest in keeping quality high.

     

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      Sean T Henry (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 6:28pm

      Re: More than $11 million worth of bad publicity

      I would have called the police and made a report called the gaming commission and Office of inspector general. Report fraud in the odds they have admitted that the machines do not work and give faults payouts. Is it more likely for you to win from a glitch of lose...

      I would say lose and you would not notice this. So by that logic all the money that was spent could have been a winner but due to a glich it said that you lost. By not owning up to the payment is the same as telling some one at the black jack table sorry the card shuffler glitched and gave you the last 3 black jacks so we are taking the winnings back.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2010 @ 3:49am

      Re: More than $11 million worth of bad publicity

      "There should be an industry insurance or bonding system that pays up for glitches like this"

      There is... it is called Errors and Omissions Insurance. I have it for my IT consulting business. There is no reason the same type of insurance couldn't cover Casinos and other financial or gaming institutions. Obviously the premiums would reflect the amount of risk involved for the type of industry it is used for. Mine is super cheap for the type of coverage.

      ie: $10M coverage costs me $2500/month. A casino may be required to have insurance on $500M for the big players in Vegas.

       

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    Jay (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 12:47pm

    House always wins...

    And here is why you don't gamble, folks. The house makes the rules, the house keeps your money and you have nothing you can do about it.

    If you must gamble, stay with a game with a person. Twenty-One, Baccarat, Poker... At least you have a chance.

    Or just hold your money and invest it in other endeavors that better yourself. That's the best way to do it.

     

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      xDeToXx, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 2:55pm

      Re: House always wins...

      AND. Don't gamble at a continuous shuffle machine. Those cheat. They constantly stack the deck against you.

      If you can't see the cards the dealer is dealing from (IE a 6 deck clear shoe, or hand dealt) don't play that table.

      On the other hand, if they shuffle with an electronic shuffler, then place the shuffled deck into a clear shoe, it might still be stacked, but you have a better chance than a continuous shuffle.

       

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    Danny, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 12:49pm

    A "glitch"? Yeah right...

    While any software can be the victim of a glitch I'm finding it odd that these glitches only happen when someone wins a big prize. Unless someone hear has ever heard of a casino seeing someone lose, find a glitch, tell them they actually won, and give them the prize?

     

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      vivaelamor (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 1:18pm

      Re: A "glitch"? Yeah right...

      Exactly my first thought. Unless they can prove that they make equivalent checks for losses as they do for wins, then they should be liable for every payout.

      Also, are they hiring monkeys to programme for them? If it were that hard to deal with errors then it'd be a miracle to boot the average PC.

       

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      Rose M. Welch (profile), Jun 8th, 2010 @ 10:27am

      Re: A "glitch"? Yeah right...

      Cue reasonable explanation in 1... 2... 3...

      The law requires that the machine be inspected by the Gaming Commission with any win over $25,000. So yes, it does only happen when someone wins a big prize. Smalls wins aren't checked.

      It's also important to know that the casino did not claim that the machine malfunctioned. The casino received a claim for an amount over $25,000, and turned the machine over to the Gaming Commission, as they are required to do by law. The Gaming Commission examined the machine, determined the correct payout, and the casino paid it.

      To be clear, the machine was not examined for an error because the casino wanted to challenge the payout. The machine was examined for an error because the law requires it. Even if there were no question about the correct payout, the machine still would have been turned over to the Gaming Commission for inspection prior to the claim being paid.

      Last, there are signs explaining this policy posted at the entrance and on every single machine. The signs explicitly state that the machines will be checked and any malfunction will be decided in favor of the house. By playing, you agree to this. This isn't just a house rule; it's the law.

      So you see, not so evil. More like an unpopular call by a ref in a game with a team you hate and an likely underdog.

       

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        nasch (profile), Jun 8th, 2010 @ 2:43pm

        Re: Re: A "glitch"? Yeah right...

        So you see, not so evil. More like an unpopular call by a ref in a game with a team you hate and an likely underdog.

        I don't know about that. It seems more like a call by a ref who's working for your opponent. I mean how objective is the gaming commission, really? Whose interests are they out to protect, the gambler's? I doubt it.

         

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          Rose M. Welch (profile), Jun 8th, 2010 @ 7:18pm

          Re: Re: Re: A "glitch"? Yeah right...

          Well, who should they protect? The player, always? That's not very fair. How about both sides, as well as they can?

           

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            nasch (profile), Jun 9th, 2010 @ 8:18am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: A "glitch"? Yeah right...

            Clearly the player is the one who needs protection, not the casino*. If they even protected both sides as well as they can that would be great, but given the pervasiveness of regulatory capture, that seems unlikely.

            * though my sympathy for anyone who gambles is limited at best

             

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              Rose M. Welch (profile), Jun 9th, 2010 @ 11:12am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A "glitch"? Yeah right...

              As this case highlights, many players attempt to scam casinos. Clearly, parties on both sides are citizens and are deserving of protection under the law.

               

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    Joe Casino, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 12:52pm

    Like Jay said,

    The house ALWAYS wins.

     

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    Paul (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 12:57pm

    Casinos and Health Insurance

    This is why regulation and reform is needed.... If the Casino loses big, it obviously has every incentive to avoid paying out big. A bad run of luck could absolutely kill a Casino, and the investors would lose their money.

    For exactly the same reasons, your health insurance company has no incentive to come through and pay for a catastrophic sort of illness, but has (for the identical reasons) every incentive to avoid paying out big. A bad run of expensive to treat illness in their insured population could absolutely kill an Insurance company, and the investors would lose their money.

    The small payouts are no problem. Of course, people could self fund and make those payments for the most part and do better than they would taking out insurance. So we are sold with the idea that we need health insurance to cover us should disaster strike. But since that doesn't happen so often, it is pretty easy for Insurance companies to make the sell FOR that reason, while in reality NOT coming through should someone really get sick in an expensive way.

    Yeah, it's a bummer that customers are the ones liable for the supposed mistakes of game programmers rather than the Casinos. Identically, the customers are the ones liable for any discrepancies in forms and filings for Health Insurance. In either case, nobody is going to care as long as "the house" is winning over all, but should they lose big it is the customer who stands to lose.

     

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      inc, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 1:35pm

      Re: Casinos and Health Insurance

      Honestly I don't care if investors lose money. That's part of the risk and reward. If I lose then the Casino expects to get paid. If I win I expect to get paid. If there is a glitch then tough titties. I have to trust that the machine are not rigged in the first place. There is an expectation of fairness. The same goes with insurance. If I pay into a system then I expect to be covered. Not only when times are easy but when times are hard. In either case both industries should keep enough liquid cash to hold up their end of the bargain. Corporations want the rights of people without the responsibility.

       

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        Paul (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 1:51pm

        Re: Re: Casinos and Health Insurance

        The fundamental fallacy at play here is the FACT that a market system doesn't work where the business is making a bet.

        If a business is making a bet, there is every incentive to market the bet as being a good one for the customer, while at the same time making the bet as bad of one for the customer as possible.

        The point is that Government/regulation becomes necessary to make betting fair. Somebody has to step in and say, "Sorry bud, but you made the bet, you took the money, you lost, you pay up."

        It is totally unreasonable to make the customer liable for the failures of Casinos/Health Insurance companies to do due diligence on their bets. But without regulation and government, the customer due a big payout is almost never going to get a fair shake.

        There just are not any market forces that force fairness in betting where the big payouts are so few and far between.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 1:03pm

    Casinos are not in business to pay out.

     

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      interval (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 1:26pm

      Re:

      However, to be in the business to steal should be outlawed (and is.) It may also be worth noting that even informing your intended victim that you intend to rob or defraud him is not legal (otherwise anyone who robs a bank with nothing more than a note would get off scott free.)

       

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      btr1701 (profile), Jun 8th, 2010 @ 9:51am

      Re: Casinos

      > Casinos are not in business to pay out.

      But they are in business and paying out occasionally brings in all the other customers who pay in.

       

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    vastrightwing, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 1:04pm

    Just don't let Google engineering team near it

    Well, here we go, another case of bad software engineering on the loose. We definitely don't want to let the Google engineers tackle this one. After all, a 3 year glitch seems to be common these days. I feel bad that so many commercial applications are going into production with so many blatant bugs. Tsk tsk tsk!

    (Of course I'm being totally sarcastic. This is an open/shut case of theft.) Even if this is a glitch, so what! The Casino lost the bet. If it were me, I'd call the police, report a theft and hire a lawyer to negotiate much better terms of my payout!

     

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    WDS (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 1:11pm

    Reset Value?

    Their explanation that it was a reset value that would have been the value after the prize was claimed makes no sense to me. Normally a reset value is gaming, lotteries, etc., is a small value that then climbs as the game is played without a winner.

     

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    AC, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 1:19pm

    I've always been curious...

    I've gambled a number of times. In fact I used to enjoy craps quite a bit, but after leaving the casino, I always came to the same conclusion: for the amount of money I spent/lost, I could have had a much better time elsewhere. Depending on the casino, I have also left wondering: why did I pay to stand around with a bunch of fat people on vacation?

     

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    Beta, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 1:22pm

    thought experiment

    Here's an idea: suppose someone won a bundle at a blackjack table, and the casino claimed it was a glitch in the shuffling machine. (Nice mental image, isn't it? Even better if you mix in some Old West movie props.)

    Everyone understands that the house is responsible for shuffling the deck, but the house can somehow still claim that what the computer game says isn't what it really means.

     

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      Jay (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 1:29pm

      Re: thought experiment

      Actually, that's why the casino keeps a "true count". It's different from the count that players may use.

      If you've watched the movie "21", though it's not entirely accurate, it's good to show those issues. Please don't take everything said in it to heart.

      Basically, casinos do a really good job of shuffling 6 or 7 decks and ensuring that the casino has a LOT to gain before it loses.

      I've yet to hear about huge payouts in the millions. You are against the pit bosses, the dealers, and the guys in the back. If you think about it, it's you versus the establishment.

      Trust me, after living in Vegas for years, the odds will never be in your favor.

      As I've mentioned before, the best game for it is Baccarat. At least then, the odds are closer to 50% than in Blackjack.

       

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      ac, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 1:32pm

      Re: thought experiment

      that sort of brings up a point. the slot machines belong to the casino and it is the casino's responsibility to maintain them and ensure they are functioning properly. if the user tampers with it it's one thing, but if the machine pays out more than it's supposed to then let that be a lesson to the casino for not maintaining it's equipment.

       

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    Richard (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 1:35pm

    Gambling used to be Illegal

    Gambling used to be illegal in most countries. There was a reason for that. Then those pesky lobbyists got in and changed the law.

    How to win at Las Vegas

    Go there, enjoy the cheap hotels and food. Don't gamble.

    That way you beat the house every time.

    If you really must gamble - do it on the stock exchange. On average it pays out.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 1:43pm

    inb4

    It's not a glitch, it's a feature!

     

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    Mayor Milobar (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 1:53pm

    For all the "I'm not a programmer but how hard could it be..." comments out there the answer is "always harder than someone who knows nothing about programming would think."

    Sorry, not trying to be a jerk but it's hard to feel bad for someone who didn't get as much free money as they thought they should. I thought Techdirt was against money for nothing business models?

     

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      Mudlock, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 2:15pm

      Re:

      I am a programmer. And at the places I've worked, when there's $11M on the line, these kind of errors are unacceptable. And a slot machine is a much less complicated machine than what I was writing for.

      Yeah, it's always harder than someone who knows nothing about programming would think. But it seems to me that the ones doing this sloppy work are people who know nothing (or at least, not enough) about programming, which is probably how these errors get introduced in the first place.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 2:16pm

      Re:

      What is the casino industry if not a 'money for nothing' business model?

       

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      Will Johnston, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 8:38pm

      Re: It's not free

      It's not free money. They had to risk some of their money to try to win a larger amount. Free money would be if you didn't have to pay to press the little button and you hit the jackpot anyway.

       

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      Jordan, Jun 8th, 2010 @ 11:30am

      programming

      I'm a programmer, and it would be easy to avoid this kind of error. The kind of easy that not falling off a bike is. It's still easier to fall off. Thats what happened here. The programmers didn't care enough to finalize their checks in the code, if it was in fact a glitch of 11m proportions.

       

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    Michael Kohne, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 2:06pm

    Who would...

    gamble at a casino that welched on a bet? This is the kind of thing that makes me want to gamble even less than I already do.

     

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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 2:07pm

    Wow...

    ...it seems that most of these commentators aren't even remotely familiar with casinos.

    In Oklahoma, just like in most states that allow gambling, machines are checked for accuracy with every jackpot of $25,000 or more, so it's not a case of a casino attempting to renege on millions. I realize that to someone outside of the industry, it sounds hokey, but it's what happens every time, and there are very few errors.

    In addition, there are signs posted at the entrance and on every single machine. The signs explicitly state that the machines will be checked and any malfunction will be decided in favor of the house. By playing, you agree to this. This isn't just a house rule; as a part of Title 31, it's the law in Oklahoma.

    Regardless, these machines are so tightly tracked that there aren't that many errors. The fact that this error is newsworthy shows you how rare an error of this magnitude is. Complain about programming all you want, but there are no perfect programmers, and there is no perfect code, especially not in complicated machines.

    About the 'theft', how can you steal something that someone never owned? And how is it stealing when you're following the procedure and rules that you had to agree to before you played?

    I'm all for the little guy, but this isn't a case of Little Guy vs. Big Guy. It's Little Whiny Guy vs. Big Fair Guy.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 2:19pm

      Re: Wow...

      Who checks the machines? An independent professional not affiliated with the casino? sure.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 2:24pm

      Re: Wow...

      except 1 thing.... Both the Consumer (in this case the player) and the provider (the Casino) made a bet. The Casino lost the bet, and says "sorry, glitch, you don't get the money". I know that laws and regulations try and do a good job and you "posted" a warning, but it still comes down to 1 point and 1 point always: they made a bet, on a machine they own, and lost... if the glitch is so major, then the casino needs to go back to the manufacture of the machine and speak to them about the problem, the customer in GOOD FAITH made the bet and won through no trickery, deception, or any other underhanded practice. I do not get to claim a glitch after everypull that losses (and it for all we know every pull that day) may have been a glitch in the Casino's favor, I dont see Johnny Law or the Casino crying about that, and I don't have the right to dispute it.

      IF you operate in the Casino industry, have to take the good and the bad... The customers know this just as well but the Casino's can cry about it the Customers just have suck it apparently...

      Glad i just play Poker... no machines, no interest to the Casino except the rake... so the Casino has only the vested interest in fair play amongst the players not themselves...

       

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        Rose M. Welch (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 2:33pm

        Re: Re: Wow...

        That's not correct. You're assuming that the player won the bet, and the Casino is attempting to renege on that. It's simply not the case.

        It's as though you were playing poker with six decks, and when everyone showed their hands, there were thirty aces on the table. Obviously, there's been an error, and the player with the winning hand didn't actually win anything.

        In some cases, the player didn't win the bet. They lost the bet but thought they won, and now they are sad. I bet Dewey was sad, too, when he thought he won. Unfortunately, when the ballots were checked, he lost.

        In this case, the player did win the bet, but not for as much as they thought they did. The analogy in the comment below is a very good one:

        If the computers at your bank have a glitch that tells you there is $11M in your checking account, should they have to make good on that? Or do you chalk it up to error?

         

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          JackSombra (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 5:48pm

          Re: Re: Re: Wow...

          "If the computers at your bank have a glitch that tells you there is $11M in your checking account, should they have to make good on that? Or do you chalk it up to error?"
          Non comparable scenario, you have not entered an agreement with the bank that if you give them something they give you the chance to win $11M. With the casino you have and it should not be your problem if they messing up rigging the game in their favor

          And let’s take the reverse of the situation, if their machines are making mistakes in the customers favour you can bet your last dollar they are making a lot more mistakes the other way around...and not heard of any casinos chasing people down to tell them the $11 dollars they thought they just won should have been $11 million and did they want it is in check or cash?

          So basically any equipment failure is to the casinos favour....

          So if your bank has a glitch that TAKES $11m out of your account, should they make good on that? Or do you chalk it up to error?

           

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            Rose M. Welch (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 11:05pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Wow...

            No, you're incorrect. The player in question didn't have a chance to win $11 million bucks on that machine. Further, it didn't tell the player that they had won that amount of money. It switched back and forth from the actual win to the larger number, and was obviously malfunctioning. Now the player is whining that it malfunctioned. Well, boohoo for him.

            Next, get your facts. The casino didn't claim that the machine malfunctioned. It seems like many of you think that the casino said, 'Oh, hell, that's a ton of money! Let's get out of it! Error! Error!'. That's not what happened.

            The casino said, 'Oh, it's a jackpot over $25,000. Let's turn the machine over to the Gaming Commission, as state law requires, after which we will pay out however much the Commission tells us to.'. And they did. So how evil is the casino now?

            Yes, any equipment failure over $25,000 is ruled in the casino's favor. Don't like it? Gamble elsewhere. And remember, any error under $25,000 is decided in favor of the player, making this policy not as evil as you seem to think.

            And last, the player agreed to the rules before playing the game. The rules included machine examinations by the Gaming Commission for large wins. So really, we're talking about someone who played by the rules, lost, and now wants to whine about the rules. And this is who you're arguing in favor of?

             

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              btr1701 (profile), Jun 8th, 2010 @ 10:17am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Wow...

              > Yes, any equipment failure over $25,000 is ruled
              > in the casino's favor. Don't like it? Gamble
              > elsewhere.

              Or, more reasonably, advocate to get the law changed so that it's not always in the casino's favor anymore.

               

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              Almost Anonymous (profile), Jun 8th, 2010 @ 10:20am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Wow...

              """
              And last, the player agreed to the rules before playing the game.
              """

              C'mon Rose, be realistic. No one reads the EULA, and frankly there shouldn't even be one for slots. You put your money in, and you -might- win some money back, simple as that for the end-user.

              Now if they very plainly state the maximum jackpot for the machine somewhere on the "front" of each machine, then I think the casino's liablility should be limited to THAT amount, not necessarily $25k. Yes yes, I know, laws, rules, blah blah blah, but as has been pointed out already in the comments, all of that is stacked WELL in favor of the casino.

               

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                Rose M. Welch (profile), Jun 8th, 2010 @ 1:36pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Wow...

                You're wrong in your comparison of these signs to EULAs. These signs are different from EULAs in many ways.

                One difference is that you can read the sign before you put down any money, which you can't do with a EULA.

                Another large difference is that most EULAs attempt to reduce what your rights are under the law, while these signs simply explain what the law is. Not casino policy. The law.

                 

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        btr1701 (profile), Jun 8th, 2010 @ 10:14am

        Re: Re: Wow...

        > IF you operate in the Casino industry, have to take
        > the good and the bad...

        Yep. Which is why I've always thought that card-counting should not only be legal (which it is, per the Nevada Supreme Court), but a casino shouldn't even be able to kick you out for doing it.

        If they offer a game to play, they shouldn't be able to tell people they can only play it as long as they don't play very well. If a person who uses nothing other than their own god-given talents and the brain they were born with can beat the casino at its own game, then the casino should have to bear that loss.

        If the player is using trickery or computers or some other outside aid, that's one thing, but if it's just their own innate skill, then the law should require the casino to honor any winnings and bar them from blacklisting such people.

         

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          Rose M. Welch (profile), Jun 18th, 2010 @ 12:07am

          Re: Re: Re: Wow...

          That would be a complicated thing to enforce, because private businesses have the right to refuse service for any reason. I'm down with card-counting, but I'm not down with anything that waters down my right to kick out customers when I feel that it's needful, without being investigated for it.

           

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      Rose M. Welch (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 2:25pm

      Re: Wow...

      I'd also like to point out that $11 millions dollars seems like a good reason to cheat to us, but it's a drop in the bucket to a casino. It's just not a good reason to cheat, especially when the house always wins, anyway. :)

       

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      Vincent Clement, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 5:34pm

      Re: Wow...

      Since when is hitting the jackpot a "malfunction"?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 2:11pm

    So you're not liable for glitches in software? Cool! I'm gonna build a robot with a rocket launcher and anti bug spray. I ofcourse will not use the rocket laucher for anything I will just make it spray bugs with anti bug spray infront of the white house. OOPS! A software glitch, I just killed Obama. Sry Secret Service, it was a software bug :D. Seriously though... I hope this casino gets what its asking for.

     

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      Rose M. Welch (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 2:34pm

      Re:

      I'm going to repeat what the commentator below said:

      If the computers at your bank have a glitch that tells you there is $11M in your checking account, should they have to make good on that? Or do you chalk it up to error?

      Remember, there is a limit to liability.

       

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        Paul (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 4:26pm

        Banks don't "sell" bets

        I don't doubt the law is what the law is. I don't even doubt that warnings are plastered on all the machines, which kinda like a EULA supposedly lock in the customer to terms that don't make sense from the customer's perspective.

        It remains that this is unfair. It also remains that glitches in a bank's system cannot be compared to a slot machine.

        When you transfer funds between accounts or to another user, the transfer of those funds is the functionality the bank is selling to the customer. If a glitch failed to transfer the funds, or transfered too much money, then this behavior isn't consistent with the product the bank is selling to the customer, i.e. the ability to accurately transfer funds.

        In this case, the business is selling bets. The casino chooses to purchase machines from other businesses. One assumes that the machine claims that the customer *could* win 11 million dollars (at least I haven't heard otherwise).

        Then the machine indicates a payoff of 11 million. This is consistent with what a user certainly hoped for when they put money into the machine. Then AFTER the fact, the business does not pay due to a fault either in configuring the machine, or in the machine itself.

        Now, I have a number of problems with this. 1) How is it the customer's responsibility to insure that a machine that claims to have a possible payout of 11 million actually does? 2) If such a machine paid out 11 million because of some fault, how can one prove that it wouldn't have given the pay out of 11 million without that fault? 3) If someone needs to cover the obligation due to an error in the programming, how is it that the business that sold the machine to the casino escapes any liability?

        I could go on. I don't gamble via casinos, lotteries, etc. I gamble by buying insurance. It is the same game, placing a bet, and hoping the house will pay if they lose. My In-laws lost that bet and went bankrupt when my mother-in-law got cancer. All perfectly "legal" and consistent with the law of the land, and the fine print in the contracts.

        Forgive me if I find the fact that the process in this case is "legal". It once was legal to simply shoot an American Indian if you wanted to. Doesn't make it right or moral.

         

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          Rose M. Welch (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 11:20pm

          Re: Banks don't "sell" bets

          You're right. The bank analogy doesn't completely follow through, but it does show that the opposite view can still be tenable.

          You're wrong in your comparison of the signs to EULAs. These signs are different from EULAs in many ways. One difference is that you can read the sign before you put down any money, which you can't do with a EULA. Another large difference is that most EULAs attempt to reduce what your rights are under the law, while these signs simply explain the law. Not casino policy. The law.

          Next, the machine did not indicate a payout of $11 million. It indicted a payout of about $1,500 and then showed what the next payout would be. The player saw the two different numbers, and assumed that the larger number was the payout.

          It's also important to know that the business didn't claim that the machine malfunctioned. The casino received a claim for an amount over $25,000. Per law, they turned the machine over to the Gaming Commission. The Gaming Commission determined the correct payout, and the casino paid it.

          To be clear, the machine was not examined for an error because the casino wanted to challenge the payout. The machine was examined for an error because the law requires it. Even if there were no question about the correct payout, the machine still would have been turned over to the Gaming Commission for inspection prior to the claim being paid.

          Yes, the casino has very limited liability in these cases. Why? Because a large liability isn't necessary. Nobody is hurt if someone loses a jackpot, or receives a smaller amount than they would have liked. Errors in a casino are not like errors in a vehicle, a bank, or in an operating room. Errors in a casino don't cause harm for a player, so there simply isn't any reason to create large liabilities for the casinos.

          Yes, any equipment failure over $25,000 is ruled in the casino's favor. Don't like it? Gamble elsewhere. And remember, any error under $25,000 is decided in favor of the player, making this policy relatively benign.

          And last, the player agreed to the rules before playing the game. The rules included machine examinations by the Gaming Commission for large wins. So really, we're talking about someone who played by the rules, lost, and now wants to whine about the rules. And this is who you're arguing in favor of?

           

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    TheOldFart (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 2:23pm

    This sort of thing not unheard of even though...

    ...the gaming devices go through extensive testing both statistically and functionally.

    The short version is this: If the computers at your bank have a glitch that tells you there is $11M in your checking account, should they have to make good on that? Or do you chalk it up to error.

    Typically the company manufacturing the gaming device will employ a third party to verify that statistically speaking all the pay tables are correct, that all wins stand a chance of coming up etc. Then the device is submitted to the Nevada gaming commission for approvals. One of the requirements for approval is that you provide them with a firmware listing and the information on where they can set breakpoints after the deal/draw/spin but before the results are processed. This allows them to manipulate the game outcomes and verify that the machine displays properly (e.g. doesn't hide a big winner by intentionally drawing a losing result)

    There are generally multiple pay tables in each device. So the house can select whether they want a specific device to pay 89%, 92%, 94% etc. Identical devices sitting side by side can have different pay tables selected, though when I was involved the pay tables weren't changed very often.

    Because of the large number of pay tables there are lots of combinations to test, but in general they are all well tested before the machine is approved by Nevada.

    So my guess is that the bug was somewhere outside the actual game play code, and from the sounds of the size of the jackpot it may not have been a bug in the gaming device at all. It may have been a bug in the progressive controller (the system that links all the machines together so that they contribute to a common jackpot) or the central control system.

    Believe it or not, that very simple looking poker/keno/9 line game is actually a very complex bit of software with extremely strict functional requirements. Some jurisdictions will take a machine being evaluated for approvals and hook it up to an outlet that is randomly switched on and off, put a bunch of credits in and let it play for several days. When not waiting for human input they can play hundreds to thousands of games every second. It has to play the games continuously and record all the outcomes properly, and it has to continue to do so no matter how many times the power is interrupted or where in the code it is executing at the time the power went away. All the while they can be standing there inserting bills or coins into the machine, even while the power is constantly cycling. If you get to the end of a few days of that and your accounting is off by a penny, you failed, you have to fix the bug and resubmit and pay another $5K to $50K to resubmit the device for approvals.

    It's not always as simple as it seems, then when you throw in communication protocols and coordinating with a progressive controller and and a central control system, mistakes are possible.

    I'm not sure I see it as a major problem. Sometimes there are glitches. The casinos can buy their central control systems from one place, their progressive controllers from another and their gaming devices from a dozen different manufacturers. Should they be held responsible for every glitch along the way? Is it any different than the bank computer glitch that puts millions in your checking account?

    In the end, people should gamble for one reason and one reason only. Entertainment. It's like going to a movie or a Broadway show, you pay your $10 or you $100 or $1,000, you sit down and you watch the show. If you don't like how it ended, oh well, you *got* your entertainment. If it doesn't feel like it was worth the price of admission, don't go back again.

     

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    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 2:50pm

    Anyone who gambles on machines in casinos deserves to lose

    Matter of fact, anyone who gambles in casinos deserves to lose. What is it about the odds favoring the house that so many people fail to understand and accept? This is why I do not gamble in casinos. Lotteries are my sole form of gambling, and I expect to lose every single time, except for the extremely remote possibilities that I may actually win something at all or win the big one. Someone eventually does, but it sure isn't me. At least so far. Can you imagine what would happen if a glitch occurred in the Powerball or MegaMillions lotteries, and the winning ticket was denied payment? Nobody would ever buy another ticket again. Why the same principle doesn't seem to apply to casinos is beyond me.

     

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      Scootah (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 6:35pm

      Re: Anyone who gambles on machines in casinos deserves to lose

      Wait... You don't like the odds at a Lottery - where you could say bet on Black at a roulette table, or count cards at a Blackjack table untill the house decided they didn't want to play with you any more (and possibly broke your arms on the way out)... but you play the Lottery, where your odds of winning are worse then your odds of walking up to a stranger in a high transit airport and guessing their phone number? Where your odds of winning are lower then your odds of being killed by falling space debris? Srsly?

      I'm not a gambler - but if you are going to play, even casino machines have much better odds than large lotteries.

       

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    NullOp, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 2:55pm

    Hmmm....

    So who do you think is in bed with whom?

     

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    NAMELESS.ONE, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 2:56pm

    so a casino has not only no incentive to fix a glitch

    but may want one they can activate to get out of large payouts at will.

    OH well when fewer people start gong cause they know the crooks are really gaming them...you will see this change

     

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    Pixelation, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 3:09pm

    More to it?

    I found this from another article about the same thing...
    "An initial prize of $1,627.82 was shown, but then the somewhat schizophrenic machine flashed up the letters CURRENT before flipping up $11,600,600.01, then switching between the two figures."

    This changes things somewhat.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 3:25pm

    I work for a game manufacturer and wanted to add a few comments.

    Every game you see in a casino is software written by a developer somewhere. I wish software engineers were all perfect but they're not, and mistakes are made. We do a lot of development testing on our games. Then we send them to our QA department and test them a LOT more. Then we send them to multiple state jurisdictional labs who each do more testing. And yet some things fall through the cracks.

    @Danny, you only hear about it in the news when there's a big prize. If a glitch occurs on smaller prizes they usually just give it to the patron because there's no need to generate bad will over a small sum of money. $11M and $42M are not small sums of money.

    @Paul, casino games are one of the most highly regulated things we do in this country. There are a lot of rules and independent agencies in place to protect players from getting screwed by unscrupulous casinos. Most of the laws in place favor the patron. A few of those rules are in favor of the casino, including "malfunction voids all pays and plays." You can't just protect the patron.

    @The software engineers reading this, that $42M dollar prize was actually $42,949,673 which (in pennies) is a number you should all be familiar with, 2^32-1. It looks like someone under-flowed an unsigned int and displayed it as the prize. Should that happen? No. Does it happen? Yes, and it's a malfunction. Did the player win $42M? No. Did they deserve $42M? No.

    And while that $11,000,600 reset prize was a glitch (it should have been only $600) it was the reset value, not the award value. It is what the NEXT jackpot winner would have won, assuming nobody in the casino noticed the error and shut the machines down before then. The machine very clearly indicated to this player that they won $1627.82 and that the next prize was $11M. They only assumed they won $11M because the number was bigger. That's hardly the casinos fault.

     

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    steve, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 4:11pm

    Hmmmm, this makes me think of all the times I've lost due to a computer glitch. I want the jackpot I would have won!

     

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    J.T. Tarasky, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 5:54pm

    Nobody in their right mind would expect to win 11 million dollars from a machine that lets people win a maximum of, for example, 10 grand. Its not a legitimate legal complaint. Take it to court and you'd get thrown out. The glitch must be taken in context. Those who want the casino to pay out aren't basing that on right and wrong, they are basing that on hating 'the man.' That just isn't right.

     

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    John H., Jun 7th, 2010 @ 6:29pm

    $11 million worth of bad publicity

    I'm really happy there's a read-write Web where I can find out about these kind of things.

    Now this is a strategy that's not going to fly, but: howabout from now on, in Colorado, anytime a slot machine player has a turn and DOESN'T win, take that dang machine on down to the Gaming Commission to be checked out.

    It's only fair.

     

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      Rose M. Welch (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 11:22pm

      Re: $11 million worth of bad publicity

      I don't know about Colorado, but in Oklahoma, a player can ask for an inspection by the Gaming Commission at any time. :)

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 6:55pm

    as a former IT worker from a las wages, nv hotel/resort/casino before this nagging recession hit.. the nevada state gaming commission has a very strict policy regarding this.. the house pays out

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 8:20pm

    This is so wrong. I think all customers who have lost money on those slots should be able to go back and file a class action lawsuit against the casino. As if there was in fact a glitch, it most likely resulted in a loss for a number of individuals as well.

    I think that should be allowed and the casinos would stand up for those glitches and make certain they don't happen at all :-)

     

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    Matthew Brown, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 8:36pm

    Casinos are still run by the mob.

    Casinos are owned and operated by the mafia just as they have always been. They are the only ones getting rich from gambling. They also have legislatures by the cajones in any state that allows casino gambling.

     

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    James, Jun 7th, 2010 @ 10:07pm

    B.S!

    That's a load of crap!

     

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    Brendan (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 11:00pm

    pay up - too bad for the casino

    i feel that even if they are "glitches' (which i doubt) the casino should be held liable for the payout

    its their responsibility, and nobody elses, to keep their own machines in working order

     

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      Rose M. Welch (profile), Jun 7th, 2010 @ 11:24pm

      Re: pay up - too bad for the casino

      Actually, it's partially the responsibility of the Gaming Commission. And the biggest error here was the player seeing two numbers and attempting to use public opinion to demand the larger number.

       

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      JTK, Jun 8th, 2010 @ 10:41am

      Re: pay up - too bad for the casino

      Kindly explain how a machine with a ten thousand dollar limit would be giving out over a million dollars without a glitch. The maximum payout it written in large letters on the machine. She knows, KNOWS, that this is a glitch. Nobody in their right mind would expect to win a million from a machine with a 10k max prize.

      Simple, right? This isn't about hating the casino and wanting them to pay out, this is about honesty. This 'winner' is not being honest because they are fully aware of the max payout and to demand more than the max, to sue over it.. that won't fly in court.

      I hope this dose of reality has changed your mind. Not liking the casino is not justification for letting this woman defraud them. She is fully aware of what her max payout would have been, its up there on the machine itself in big letters.

       

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    Rich Mpistolarides Sr, Jun 8th, 2010 @ 5:33am

    casinos

    they got people hooked and now they are robbing us, their payouts are almost unseen and yet situations like this is a terrible crime.

     

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      Rose M. Welch (profile), Jun 8th, 2010 @ 10:13am

      Re: casinos

      In Oklahoma, casinos pay out 96% of what players pay in.

       

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        Almost Anonymous (profile), Jun 8th, 2010 @ 10:24am

        Re: Re: casinos

        Um, wow. Not that I agree with Mr. Rich, above, but I also very seriously doubt your statement. Maybe that's what they tell the press though.

         

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          Rose M. Welch (profile), Jun 8th, 2010 @ 1:14pm

          Re: Re: Re: casinos

          My husband works security for a local casino and that's the honest percentage. :)

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2010 @ 4:27pm

          Re: Re: Re: casinos

          Rose Welch is the only commenter so far who knows what she's talking about. I work in the gaming industry and can assure you that everything she's said is perfectly true.

          AC on this occasion because I'm an insider.

           

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    TheTruth, Jun 8th, 2010 @ 7:32am

    People should boycott these crooked casinos when they do this sort of thing. If everyone could refrain from going for just one week, it would bring them to their knees!

    FUK'EM!

     

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      JTK, Jun 8th, 2010 @ 10:44am

      Re:

      How is it crooked to not give out more money than a machine is supposed to give? This was not a million dollar prize machine, the evidence if the glitch is perfectly clear.

      You would boycott a casino that failed to give out millions from a machine with a ten thousand dollar grand prize?

      I hope you aren't part of the legal system and never sit on a jury. You aren't interested in the law or the truth, you are interested in punishing the casino for something that is not their fault in any way. Glitches happen and this one is perfectly obvious.

      Your words make you look like a thief.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2010 @ 8:08am

    If a room full of slots malfunctioned for a year and statistically there was a zero chance of a jackpot when there shouldn't have been, would anyone know?

    Was there a jackpot max on this-- i.e. is the max possible win $1,000,000 and they are claiming an $11M jackpot should be valid? OR is this an $11M machine that said they just won $11M?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2010 @ 4:43pm

    Similar cases

    Back around 1980, someone was playing a machine in Las Vegas when it broke down in mid game and the reels stopped on 777. The casino refused to pay the jackpot. The case went to court. The judgment was that since it said on the glass that if the machine stopped on 777 the prize was X, that constituted a contract between the player and the casino and they had to pay up, which they did. Soon after that the stickers "Malfunction voids all plays and pays" started to appear on machines, to modify the terms of the contract.

    There was a case in New Mexico about 12 years ago where a person hit a large wide-area jackpot and didn't get paid because it was ruled there was a malfunction. Note, it wasn't the casino that made the decision, nor were they responsible for the payment. These wide-area jackpot games like Megabucks are leased to casinos for a share of the drop, and the owner of the game is responsible for paying jackpots. The owner skims off an additional 5% to fund it. In this case, the owner of the game, a large slot machine manufacturer, declared the machine had malfunctioned and refused to pay. Because of the bad publicity, the casino paid the player, even though they had no obligation to and had not collected the jackpot fund. The slot manager committed suicide.

     

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    electraglide (profile), Jun 8th, 2010 @ 7:22pm

    Slot machines etc.

    I play 777 at an Indian casino in California. I have been fairly lucky from time to time, but there is definitely a pattern to the payouts. Weekends and busy times, it's hard to get anything out of the machine. Week days, especially afternoons I break even or am ahead. One afternoon, a slot "employee" was hovering around the cluster of machines where I play. I engaged him in conversation and basically he said "I'm hanging around this area because one of these machines (in the cluster) is going to hit and I don't want to be on the other side of the building." Yup, 10 minutes later a player 5 seats down hit a $5K pay out and the slot employee was ready to pay. Coincedence? They do not exist.

     

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    Kevin, Jun 10th, 2010 @ 8:35pm

    I'm wondering if it would be possible to bring a suit for negligent infliction of emotional distress alongside the main claim. In which case, even if the casino was able to meritoriously argue malfunction, depending on the level of said malfunction, they may be estopped from arguing that it was non-negligent.

     

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    dale ramsay, Jun 24th, 2010 @ 12:59am

    i hit over 1 million tuesday night

    last night i hit over 1 million on a 1 cent machine, the win was very clear to veiw,,,they needed a day to verify, today they said, the win wasnt good because it did not match the bingo card in corner of machine..........im lost i dont know what to do

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Mike K, Jun 27th, 2010 @ 8:12am

    Next time I play slots and come out with zilch I'm going to appeal the casino board and claim that it was also a glitch.

    It's really not right that the mechanisms behind these machines are so opaque. But what do the casinos care...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    judy, Aug 29th, 2010 @ 12:40pm

    Indian Casions in Calif

    The Indians have the machines set up that if you do NOT play the max amount you will not win the progressive pot, most people cannot play the max. so for those that try to win the progressive pot by playing max, you don't get a dime back on your plays, the machines are a vacuum, so why play the max? One most of their machines (and we have been to 15 Indian Casion's in Calif) IF and WHEN you hit a bonus round, and lets say you have $100.00 in the machines, to which you know the person before you and the person before them fed the machines, you are lucky if you hit $5.00. So if I am playing $5.00 which I do as with my husband, the $5.00 is just about what you win on a bonus round. We are now going back to Reno, heard they are starting to pay again, besides that the food, entertainment is a lot better, you are not stuck at one casino, you don't like the one you are playing at, cross the street, the food is fresh, there are 2 casinos in the Sacramento Ca area, the food is slop, has made me sick..no more!!!!

     

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