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Saturday, July 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Gambler Seeking $2.2 Million Gets Only $20

(CN) - A Mississippi gambler will have to live with a $20 jackpot instead of the $2.2 million he hoped to collect from a malfunctioning slot machine.

Edward Payton was playing the Millionaire Blazing Sevens slot machine at the Boomtown Casino in Biloxi, Miss., on Valentine's Day 2004.

When Payton hit three Blazing Red 777s, the machine moved him into the bonus feature, where he could compete for a progressive jackpot from $5 up to $2.2 million.

The bonus-round music started playing, but the machine locked up and Payton was unable to take his bonus spin.

Personnel from Boomtown Casino and the machine's manufacturer, Bally Gaming and Systems, tried to fix the machine without success.

The casino offered Payton the chance to play another machine, but he refused. Payton said he would accept $10,000 but the casino declined the offer.

The gaming commission took the computer out of the slot machine to conduct an investigation. The computer program determines whether a gambler loses or wins, not the actual spinning symbols on the slot machine.

The gaming commission engineer could not determine the cause of the glitch, but he said the computer would have awarded Payton four re-spins and would have given him a payout of $20.

Payton then took his case to a hearing examiner. The two-day procedure generated 600 pages of testimony and exhibits. The hearing examiner recommended that Payton receive $20.

The Gaming Commission and trial court agreed, and Payton pursed the case on appeal, claiming he was denied due process.

In an opinion written by Judge Larry Roberts, the Mississippi Court of Appeals ruled that the trial court ruled correctly in the casino's favor.

"Our review of the record finds that Payton received due process. He was given a notice and an opportunity to be heard at a two-day hearing. Further, there was an appeal to the circuit court at which he gave further argument of his version of the case, and then he appealed that judgment," Roberts wrote.

Roberts' opinion also noted that Payton's own expert testified the chances of Payton winning the $2.2 million jackpot was "one in a million."

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