Iowa High Court Rules Grandma’s US$41.8 Million Penny Slot Win was Just a Glitch


aristocratslotsA grandma’s lawsuit seeking to claim a $41.8 million bonus, which she asserts was awarded by the Miss Kitty penny slot machine, did not hit pay dirt. Last Friday, all seven members of the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in favor of the casino. The High Court’s decision was based on the premise that the slot machine’s maximum payout is up to $10,000 only and is not configured to pay bonus rewards, as stated in the user agreement.

Pauline McKee, an 87-year-old grandmother from Illinois who played with the Miss Kitty penny slot at the Isle Hotel Casino in Waterloo, Iowa in 2011, had hoped that the High Court could help her collect the bonus award of $41797550.16. After placing 25 cents bet on the 5-reel 50-payline slot machine, Ms McKee won 185 credits, and the screen included a notification that the reels have “rolled in favor of the player,” for which she stands to receive a bonus award of $41797550.16.

However, a state investigation conducted by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) concluded the actual result was a $1.85 win. This was after the Miss Kitty slot machine underwent forensics examination. The results of which confirmed the technical glitch that caused the faulty bonus award notification.

The investigation also gathered that in 2010, Aristocrat Technologies, the manufacturer of the Miss Kitty EGM, had issued a bulletin informing slot machine operators that a bonus glitch was detected in Miss Kitty EGMs. Aristocrat also gave advice for casinos, to disable the bonus part of the system as a proactive preventive action. Apparently, the Waterloo Isle Hotel Casino did not pay heed, as it did not disable the said system. However, Grandma McKee still demanded the $41 million bonus from the casino by filing a lawsuit.

As a backgrounder, the elderly person from Antioch, Illinois, was in Iowa to attend a family reunion at that time. She was given a free hotel room that night in addition to the $18.10 overall winnings she won from the Miss Kitty slot machine. The casino management also gave Grandma McKee a $10-card she could use in playing with other casino games while awaiting verification.

The following day, the casino management informed her that the win occurrence she experienced was unusual. This made it necessary for them to send the EGM to the IRGC where it could be kept secure while placed under study and investigation. Thereafter, the 87-year old grandmother of 13 filed a lawsuit against the casino for refusing to pay the $41 million bonus.

However, the lawsuit was later dismissed by the lower courts, which sided with the casino’s contention that the bonus being claimed was the result of a confirmed computer glitch. Still, Mrs. McKee, through her lawyer, elevated the matter to the Iowa Supreme Court on the grounds that casinos enter into an implied contract to pay playing customers, the amount indicated by slot machines Last Friday, Justice Edward Mansfield handed the decision, which stated that the casino’s failure to pay the $41 million bonus reward could not be considered as a breach of contract.

The message that appeared on the EGM’s screen was stating a mere gratuitous promise to pay $41 million, but was not part of the contract as the EGM was programmed to pay up to $10,000 only as max prize. He added that Mrs McKee failed to read the terms of the contract, which states that machine malfunction voids all ongoing pays and plays for that particular machine.