Three years ago, 87-year old Pauline McKee probably thought her life and her family’s life would change forever. The now 90-year old grandmother was visiting her family at a family reunion in Waterloo, when some of them decided to go to the nearby Isle Casino to gamble a bit.
McKee, who isn’t a big gambler in her own words, was asked by her daughter to join while playing slot-machines, which she decided to do. She sat down and began playing the “Miss Kitty” penny slot-machine and not long after the machine stated that she had won $1.85 as well as a jackpot of $41,797,550.16 - A massive jackpot win.
The staff was quickly at the machine, offering McKee $10 in credits to continue her play while they were checking out the machine. The staff returned to inform her that it was a glitch in the machine and that she hadn’t won anything but $1.85.
Being clearly upset about the decision from the casino, McKee decided to take the Isle Casino to court, but that didn’t help her at all. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled in favor of the casino and the winnings would not be awarded to her.
“I didn’t think they would give it to me anyway. It happens that way.” McKee said to the Washington Post after the final verdict.
While the machine clearly had a glitch, which the casino had already been informed about from the provider Aristocrat Technologies, the casino decided to not follow the instructions from the company and disable the bonus function.
The machines advertised a $10,000 bonus, which makes it obvious that she cannot win the massive $41.8 million, however not paying her a dime seems a little rough. Despite McKee’s efforts to try and convince the court that the casino had not followed the instructions given by the provider, she didn’t win the case, with Justice Edward Mansfield stating:
“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 is horrific that a casino can mess up their own games and not follow clear instructions and still get away with it without having to pay a single cent for their errors. McKee has not been gambling since and most likely never will.