Casino blames software glitch
Imagine feeling as though you are a multi-millionaire — surrounded by well-wishers — and then being told something must have gone haywire in the slot machine, and it was out of order.
Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City says a software glitch cause a colossal dollar amount to flash on the slot screen, just after a northwest Indiana woman sat down to play. She says it happened inside the Blue Chip on January 11, at a penny slot machine like this called "China Shores."
"They give you a player's card. I inserted it into the machine and within 5 minutes um I think I was in shock," said Jennifer Carmin, casino customer.
Jennifer Carmin, who owns a small ad agency in Hobart, Indiana, saw ten numbers and a dollar sign.
ABC7's Chuck Goudie asks: "Did you know what those numbers meant?"
"I think I was still in shock and I said 2,800; 28,000. It just didn't click and then somebody stood behind me and they — she — they kept saying you won, you won 28.9 million and then that's when I looked and that's a lot of commas," said Carmin.
And she says a casino employee saw it.
"She was next to me. All I heard and saw, she started screaming 'supervisor!' at the top of her lungs. So I saw the numbers, heard 'supervisor!' and within 30 seconds a gentlemen approached me from the casino. He said 'Don't touch the machine,'" said Carmin.
In the chaos, she took a couple of pictures.
"I was scared. I put my hands up. I didn't know what was going on. He said 'We don't know how this happened, what's going on and he's like what did you do?' My heart, it just felt like it was pounding out of my chest. I said 'I'm a very excitable person and you are causing me stress right now. You're kinda scaring me.' He said, 'Don't touch the machine! Clear the machines! We have to shut down the machines!'" said Carmin. "They said they have to speak to the Gaming Commission."
In the lower level state gaming office, she filed this complaint and says instead of $28 million, the casino offered steak dinners to her and her boyfriend.
"I mean what are two steak dinners? I don't even like steak. I tried to explain that to them, they thought that was funny. I said I don't think that's funny. I'm pretty shaken up by this situation," said Carmin.
A few days later this letter from Indiana gaming regulators promised "a thorough review" and the state has hired an independent gambling equipment testing firm to help figure out what happened.
Blue Chip executives would not speak on camera. They did send the I-Team a series of diagrams that blame computer error for the mistaken $28 million figure. They say it appeared on Jennifer Carmin's customer account screen; as a "current balance" of promotional credits; but that it that it was not an actual cash jackpot with bells and whistles.
"You don't want to make the player feel like they did something wrong," said Cory Aronovitz, Casino Law Group.
Chicago attorney Cory Aronovitz is a gaming law expert and teaches casino law at John Marshal Law School. He says disclaimers posted on slot machines allow casinos to void payouts if there is a malfunction.
"I think after the emotion subsides, most reasonable people would say 'Yeah, that doesn't make sense. I was wagering 50 cents and it said $28 million and there was nothing on the sign that said i had an opportunity to win that.' Clearly it was an error," said Aronovitz.
Carmin says she didn't see any disclaimer, only the $28.8 million.
"I'm thinking I'm gonna pay off my mom's house. I'll pay off my best friend's house. I'll set something aside for my son. You have all of these all of a sudden dreams," said Carmin.
Goudie asks: "Do you think you actually deserve the 28 million?"
"They're always taking my money and I don't say: 'Umm is that computer wrong or did you overcharge me?' So I mean, yes, to answer your question," said Carmin.
In a phone conversation Blue Chip Casino executives told us the slot machine manufacturer has already fixed whatever software bug caused the problem. But the Indiana Gaming Commission hasn't figured out what caused it or what should be done. The state gaming director says he can't remember a claim of this magnitude by a casino patron.
Thanks to picnic for the tip.