Slots Gambler Sues New York City Casino for $43 Million
A woman is suing a Queens, New York casino for nearly $43 million in damages, claiming the casino did not pay a slot machine jackpot. Instead, the woman claimed, they offered her a $2.50 prize and a steak dinner.
Katrina Bookman was playing the slots in Resorts World Casino New York in August 2016 when the gaming machine told her she had won the grand prize of $42,949,672.76. Ecstatic at the massive jackpot she seemingly had won on “Sphinx Slot Machine“, Bookman took a selfie of the slot’s screen and found an attendant to help her collect the jackpot.
Instead, the casino worker told Bookman that she had not won a jackpot prize at all. Instead, Resorts World Casino NYC told her she had won only $2.25. According to the casino, the game screen had a glitch which was showing the wrong payout.
Resorts World Offered a Steak Dinner
Management offered to pay the correct payout and threw in a free steak dinner at a casino restaurant to make up the difference. She refused both and instead hired a lawyer, Alan Ripka. Last Wednesday, Mr. Ripka filed a lawsuit on behalf of Katrina Bookman, asking for $42,949,672.76 in damages.
The lawsuit is against Genting Group Limited, the Malaysian multinational conglomerate which owns Resorts World Casino New York City. Genting Group makes about $10 billion a year from its casino, hotel, energy, and plantation ventures around the globe. Katrina Bookman’s lawsuit also names International Game Technology (IGT), the manufacturer of Sphinx Slot Machine, in the suit.
Alan Ripka on CNN Money
Given the vast discrepency in prize money, Katrina Bookman’s phantom slots jackpot has become national news. Alan Ripka has done interviews with CNN Money and the New York Daily News, making his case and warning slots players about such glitches. While it might seem counter-productive to wage a battle in the court of public opinion, Alan Ripka knows the bad publicity might cause Resorts World Casino Queens to settle out of court.
In a television interview on Monday, Alan Ripka told CNN Money, “You can’t claim a machine is broken because you want it to be broken. Does that mean it wasn’t inspected? Does it mean it wasn’t maintained?. And if so, does that mean that people that played there before [Bookman] had zero chance of winning?”
Ripka says that the casino owes Ms. Bookman the money, because the machine offered $43 million and because of the “mental anguish” the mixup caused her. He described Resorts World Casino’s tech support as “negligent” to allow such a thing to happen.
Resorts World Casino’s Statement
Neither Genting Group nor Resorts World Casino made a statement after the lawsuit was filed. At the time of the incident, Dan Bank, a spokesman for Resorts World Queens, gave a public explanation and expressed his company’s regrets. Mr. Bank said at the time that Sphinx Slots’ jackpot does not reach $43 million, so Katrina Bookman could not have expected to win that kind of money off the slot machine. Sphinx Slot Machine is what’s called a “penny slot“, designed for low rollers.
At the time, Dan Bank said, “Casino personnel were able to determine that the figure displayed on the penny slot was the result of an obvious malfunction — a fact later confirmed by the New York State Gaming Commission.”
New York Gaming Commission on Slots Malfunctions
After the incident, the New York Gaming Commission released a statement supporting Resorts World Casino. It said that the game had malfunctioned and state law is clear that “malfunctions void all pays and plays“. According to the New York Gaming Commission, the offer of $2 and a steak dinner was generous.
Most US states which have a substantial casino industry pass laws which favor those casinos. The states see casino operators as major business owners and employers, as well as a significant source of tax revenues for the state treasury. In 2015, an Iowa court sided with a casino against a 90-year old woman whose penny slot showed that she had won $41 million, according to the Chicago Tribune.
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