Nation & World

Woman sues after her $43 million jackpot was deemed a “machine malfunction” by casino

Katrina Bookman thought she had hit a massive jackpot. Instead, the casino called it a malfunction and offered her dinner and $2.25
Katrina Bookman thought she had hit a massive jackpot. Instead, the casino called it a malfunction and offered her dinner and $2.25

Forty-two million, nine-hundred forty-nine thousand, six hundred and seventy-two dollars ... and seventy-six cents.

Jackpot.

Except it wasn’t, according to the casino where that massive figure flashed on a Sphinx slot machine. Katrina Bookman, gambling at the Resorts World Casino New York City last August, took a selfie next to the screen where the figure appeared as noises, bells and lights announced to the floor a big win. It would have been the largest payout on a slot machine in U.S. history.

Except it wasn’t, according to the casino. The jackpot was actually the result of a “machine malfunction,” Resorts World officials told her.

Bookman, a resident of Rockaway, N.Y., filed suit Wednesday against the casino, seeking damages of $42,949,672.76 — the exact eight-figure amount that was never paid to her — plus interest for time elapsed.

Back in August, after she was told of the “malfunction,” Bookman was offered a steak dinner and $2.25 by casino officials rather than the nearly $43 million “cash ticket” promised by the slot machine.

She declined the steak and the two bucks.

“She feels like the big guy is taking advantage of the little guy,” said Bookman’s attorney, Alan Ripka, in an interview with The Star. “When she goes and gambles, they take her money right then and there and have no problem with that.”

Ripka argues that the casino was negligent in its duty to maintain properly functioning machines, according to court documents filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York. He also posed the question: If Bookman’s winnings truly were null, how many slot players before her were gambling without the possibility of winning?

As a result of the incident, Bookman has suffered mental anguish, anxiety and “a lost chance and/or opportunity to win,” the documents say.

The suit also names slot machine maker International Game Technology and video lottery operator Genting New York LLC as defendants.

Casino spokesman Dan Bank told CNN Money that “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.” The Commission has said the machine displayed a disclaimer stating malfunctions void winnings.

Even so, Ripka believes he and his client have good chances in the case.

“Bottom line is she won. It says she won the money,” Ripka said. “If I don’t maintain, inspect and calibrate my machine, that means I get to say whoever wins is not a winner?”

Max Londberg: 816-234-4378, @MaxLondberg

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