87 Year Old Grandmother Denied a $41.8 Million Jackpot Due to a Computer Glitch
Imagine playing your favorite slot machine and seeing this message: "The reels have rolled your way! Bonus Award - $41797550.16."
Now, imagine being denied your almost $41.8 million payday.
This is exactly what happened to 87-year-old Illinois grandmother Pauline McKee in 2011, when she was playing the Miss Kitty penny slot machine at the Isle Hotel Casino in Waterloo while attending a family reunion in Iowa.
When McKee spun what she thought was the magical spin of her lifetime, she and her daughter immediately demanded what they believed was their mega-jackpot payout. According to Ars Technica, the casino refused to pay McKee, claiming a computer glitch and referencing a sign on the slot machine stating, "MALFUNCTION VOIDS ALL PAYS AND PLAYS."
McKee took her dispute to court, where eventually it was heard by the Iowa Supreme Court who ruled in favor of the casino claim's they should not have to payout based off a technical glitch.
The computer malfunction claiming a false jackpot was proven by independent forensic examiners on the request of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.
Justice Edward Mansfield explained the court's ruling, "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. McKee did not read the rules of the game or look at the paytable before playing the Miss Kitty game."
Whether or not this was considered by the court, it does appear that the Isle Hotel Casino in Waterloo could have prevented this from occurring. Aristocrat Gaming, the developer of Miss Kitty and other slot machines, issued a warning in 2010 to all casinos using its machines about this potential computer glitch and what they can do to prevent it.
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