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Court rules grandmother, 90, will receive $1.85 instead of $41M jackpot

Insider BuzzInsider Buzz: Court rules grandmother, 90, will receive $1.85 instead of $41M jackpot

As a 90-year-old grandmother, Pauline McKee tries to maintain a sweet disposition.

When she played a penny slot machine that told her she had won more than $41 million, the Antioch woman remained pretty calm. "That was nice," she said, recalling her reaction. "Very nice."

And when she learned on Friday that the Iowa Supreme Court ruled the casino does not have to pay her the big bucks, McKee took it stoically.

Instead, she won a mere $1.85 on the bet.

"I had my doubts from the start, because that's a lot of money for a penny machine," she said. "I was hoping to help my children out financially, but it wasn't meant to be."

The court ruled that the Isle Casino Hotel in Waterloo, Iowa, does not have to pay McKee the $41.8 million she thought she had won in 2011 while playing the "Miss Kitty" slot machine.

The machine gave her a 185-credit win and declared on the screen, "The reels have rolled your way! Bonus Award $41,797,550.16."

But the court sided with the casino and said the game's rules capped jackpots at $10,000 and didn't allow bonuses. The court said the message about the bonus award was a "gratuitous promise" the casino didn't have to honor.

McKee said she is a widow who lives on Social Security, can't see well and is a grandmother of 13. She had been at the casino during a family reunion.

McKee sued to try to collect the prize after a state investigation concluded the bonus award wasn't valid and resulted from a software error.

The ruling noted the casino paid McKee the $1.85 she was owed, and gave her a free hotel room that night.

McKee said she still plays the slots occasionally — but not at Isle Casino. "They didn't give me anything except what I had on the machine," McKee said. "If they're not going to give me any money at all, that's terrible."

The casino could have been forced into bankruptcy if it had gone the other way, said one of its attorneys, Stacey Cormican. A $41 million payout would amount to about half of the gross revenue the casino generated last year.

Cormican said the ruling will ensure fairness in Iowa's large gambling industry.

"Casinos are required to post rules and follow those rules. If either the patrons or casinos could change the rules in the middle of the game, it would be absolutely chaos," she said.

She said such computer glitches are rare.

According to the lawsuit McKee filed against the casino, here's what happened on the night of the disputed winnings:

McKee's daughter had invited her to sit down next to her to play the "Miss Kitty" slot machine.

At one point after playing 25 cents, the machine's video screen indicated her win was 185 credits, or $1.85. But it also displayed a notice of a "bonus award" of almost $41.8 million.

McKee and her daughter summoned an attendant, and an employee opened the slot machine's main door to clean the central processor. The supervisor photographed the display, and a slot technician restarted the game.

The supervisor said she had to make a few phone calls and gave McKee a $10 card to play other games while she waited. The supervisor paid McKee $18.10 she had won overall on the machine up to that point, said the casino was looking into the machine and told McKee she would get a free hotel room that night.

The next day, the casino's vice president and general manager called the situation "unusual" and compensated McKee's family for additional hotel rooms they used. McKee was told the casino had contacted the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission and that the machine would be secured and studied.

The Gaming Commission conducted its own investigation through a testing laboratory, which concluded that the machine's hardware erroneously awarded the bonus, the suit said.

The manufacturer of the game, Aristocrat Technologies, had previously issued a bulletin that the game might show an erroneous bonus, with a recommendation to casinos to disable the bonus option.

The court ruling states that by playing, McKee entered a binding contract governed by rules and a pay table which could be displayed on the machine by pressing a button on the slot machine. A sign posted on the front of the machine also states, "Malfunction voids all pays and plays."

The rules made no mention of any bonus, so therefore the court, in an opinion written by Justice Edward Mansfield, concluded that McKee was entitled only to the $1.85. The decision upheld a lower court's granting of summary judgment to dismiss the case.

"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," Mansfield wrote in a ruling that dismissed a lawsuit filed by McKee seeking the payout.

McKee's argument that the casino had an implied contract with customers to pay whatever the slot machines said "is contrary to precedent and general contract principles," he added.

The ruling followed similar decisions by other courts, such as a Mississippi Supreme Court ruling that a gambler was limited to the $8,000 maximum payout in the rules, rather than the $1 million bonus displayed on a game's screen.

In other cases, the courts have ruled in favor of gamblers if a bonus was provided for in the rules, or when a casino changed the rules after the game was played.

Chicago Tribune, Lottery Post Staff

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49 comments. Last comment 2 years ago by BellasBMWLucki.
Page 1 of 4
dpoly1's avatar - driver
United States
Member #66141
October 16, 2008
1672 Posts
Posted: April 26, 2015, 10:45 am - IP Logged


No Nod

dpoly1 - Playing the lottery to save the jobs of those that build, transport, sell & maintain luxury items! -


Eschew Poverty ........... Vote Conservative!

    Tony Numbers's avatar - Lottery-022.jpg
    Bronx ny
    United States
    Member #158517
    August 25, 2014
    286 Posts
    Posted: April 26, 2015, 10:53 am - IP Logged

    The casino could have been forced into bankruptcy if the ruling had gone the other way. Wow gambling is welcome unless you win, and the courts rule in the company's favor.If everyone were to boycott the casino until that woman got paid, watch how fast they cut her a check.Instead after she won they reset the machine, gave her a ten dollar gift card, a hotel room for the night. Heck she's ninety years old do we really have to pay her boss?

      rcbbuckeye's avatar - Lottery-043.jpg
      United States
      Member #55889
      October 23, 2007
      5615 Posts
      Posted: April 26, 2015, 10:57 am - IP Logged

      It's stuff like this that keeps me from visiting casinos.

      I think I'll continue to play the lottery for my entertainment.



        New Member

        United States
        Member #165885
        April 26, 2015
        1 Posts
        Posted: April 26, 2015, 11:02 am - IP Logged

        Yeah its a bummer to think you won 41 million but lets be real its a penny slot LOL.


        The slots also all have payout scales even a progressive pot is listed so to be honest I think the casino was stand up with the way they dealt with her by giving her a free room slot play etc.. The fact she then later tried to sue is ridiculous to say the least, lets bankrupt a business and throw all the employees that work there to the wolves hell their baby's don't need to eat just so long and a 90 year old woman got her 41 million. 


        I liked how she said i wont go back there well hun I'm sure they will miss that big bad 40 bucks a year you spend there LOL

          dallascowboyfan's avatar - tiana the-princess-and-the-frog.jpg
          United States
          Member #82391
          November 12, 2009
          6290 Posts
          Posted: April 26, 2015, 11:33 am - IP Logged

          Wow that's messed up!!!!

          I Love Pink & Green 1908

            temptustoo's avatar - cat anm.gif
            United States
            Member #89197
            April 2, 2010
            2817 Posts
            Posted: April 26, 2015, 11:42 am - IP Logged

            DON'T count your chickens before they are hatched.  LOL Big Grin Angel

              maringoman's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcTbRxpKQmOfcCoUqF2FyqIOAwDo7rg9G-lfJLAALPGWJWwiz19eRw
              United States
              Member #37433
              April 14, 2006
              2747 Posts
              Posted: April 26, 2015, 11:59 am - IP Logged

              I like her attitude, she has a big heart. She must be a happy person in nature.

              That money's gone fo ever

                mypiemaster's avatar - 2015021003pileofcash
                JACKPOT HUNTER

                United States
                Member #141034
                April 2, 2013
                1409 Posts
                Posted: April 26, 2015, 12:08 pm - IP Logged

                Total BS.

                Seek and ye shall find -Matt. 7:7 ...Ask and ye shall receive -John 16:24 ...Give and it shall be given unto you -Luke 6:38 ...Be careful what you ask for!!! -Mypiemaster 1:1

                Having Money Solves Problems That Not Having Money Creates Yes Nod ****John Carlton****

                  United States
                  Member #73270
                  April 10, 2009
                  2854 Posts
                  Posted: April 26, 2015, 12:12 pm - IP Logged

                  Total BS.

                  I agree with you that's BS,it's just not fair she should get small amount,God don't like ugly

                    MaximumMillions's avatar - Lottery-013.jpg

                    Member #164603
                    March 8, 2015
                    614 Posts
                    Posted: April 26, 2015, 12:57 pm - IP Logged

                    Malfunction voids all pays and plays. Simple.

                      pickone4me's avatar - 021414tvlies zpsa453b327.jpg
                      United States
                      Member #104962
                      January 23, 2011
                      1075 Posts
                      Posted: April 26, 2015, 1:03 pm - IP Logged

                      It's stuff like this that keeps me from visiting casinos.

                      I think I'll continue to play the lottery for my entertainment.

                      It is entertaining for me when people throw away their money constantly to try to win a lottery game that has bad odds of winning

                      Trump 2016!

                        United States
                        Member #23835
                        October 16, 2005
                        3475 Posts
                        Posted: April 26, 2015, 1:03 pm - IP Logged

                        It's stuff like this that keeps me from visiting casinos.

                        I think I'll continue to play the lottery for my entertainment.

                        "It's stuff like this that keeps me from visiting casinos."

                        You mean stuff like being given a card that's good for some free bets and a few hotel rooms in addition to what you actually won?

                          music*'s avatar - nw bookeep.jpg
                          Happy California
                          United States
                          Member #157856
                          August 2, 2014
                          1522 Posts
                          Posted: April 26, 2015, 1:26 pm - IP Logged

                          Shocked Iowan's generally have the right attitude.  I do not play in casinos and I will not begin when I win Power Ball.Wink

                            noise-gate's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcR91HDs4UJhjxO7cmeMQWZ5lB_FOcMLOGicau4V74R45tDgPWrr
                            Bay Area - California
                            United States
                            Member #136477
                            December 12, 2012
                            4110 Posts
                            Posted: April 26, 2015, 1:48 pm - IP Logged

                            First Off: I love my Grandmother. That being said- I think Mrs Mckee's Children and Grandchildren drove this lawsuit thinking they were going to get rich off " pennies". I agree with the court here. You can't get a scratcher that pays $40 mil and those puppies can run you $20.00 and up for the higher payouts... But you want to be paid $40 mil on playing pennies? Right...

                            People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.