What was the most interesting gambling lawsuit of the last 10 years?

Today we are going to tell you about a woman named Katrina Bookman. The 44-year-old American Bookman would receive a life-changing cash price in august 2016 after she won the Jackpot of 43 million dollars, at least that’s what the slot machine said. But nothing could be further from the truth. In this blog we are going to tell you all about the insane story of Katrina Bookman and her lawsuit against the Resort World Casino located in New York.

Katrina Bookman

Bookman was a woman raised in foster care, a loving wife, and a mother to four beautiful children who she raised on her own. Softly said, she wasn’t a very wealthy woman and then also had six mouths to feed including herself.

One day she decided to take a trip to the Resorts  World Casino in Jamaica, Queens. Her eye caught the penny slots, as she didn’t have any experience with poker or for example blackjack. After a few pulls on the slot machine, playing for 40 cents per spin, Bookman had the scare of her life, the machine alerted that she had won a huge (if we say huge, we mean huge!) amount of money. Bookman saw that she had won 43 million dollars and immediately she made a selfie with her price.

Katrina Bookman’s selfie just minutes under she thought she had hit the jackpot

Immediately she saw her money problems disappear like snow in the sun. Finally, she would be financially independent, she could buy her kids birthday presents they really want, take her family out for a proper dinner, and buy herself some new, beautiful clothing. She was about to break the record of an American slot game that was worth 43 million dollars. The current recordholder is an anonymous winner who won a price of 39 million dollars at the Excalibur-casino in Las Vegas. But before she could swoon over her wealthy future, Bookman was swarmed by casino patrons, as well as security. And soon enough her happy dream turned into a nightmare of false hopes and lies.

Casino malfunction

It soon became clear that Bookman didn’t win 43 million dollars, like the machine implied. The Resort World Casino claimed that the slot machine malfunctioned. The American came back the next day and asked the casino ‘’I said what did I win?’’ and their response was ‘’Well, you didn’t win nothing’’. And by nothing the casino meant a total of 2 dollars and 25 cents. As you can imagine, Bookman’s dream was shattered and was overcome with a sense of sadness, anger, and disbelief. The anger became increasingly when the casino offered her a steak dinner, in addition to the 2 dollars and 25 cents, as an excuse for the inconvenience.

The casino claimed that that the jackpot resulted from the slot machine’s malfunction. They had the machine checked by the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) and they confirmed the malfunction.

In the casinos official statement to CNN Money, Resorts World Casino representative Dan Bank explained why Bookman’s apparent jackpot had gone up in smoke. The personnel were able to determine that the figure displayed on the penny slot was a result of an obvious malfunction.

Take it to court!

Bookman took the case to an attorney named Alan Ripka and refused to surrender the claim. Ripka filed a lawsuit against the parent company of the Resort World Casino, named Getting New York LLC.

When he asked for more explanation in a detailed form about the nature of the malfunction and asked how the machine malfunctioned, Resort Works Casino refused to further comment and left any explanations behind. Ripka deemed that the situation not only caused Bookman a financial setback but also mental problems due to the negligence, because of this they are suing for at least 43 million dollars in damages. You can imagine this setback caused a lot of issues and sadness to the Bookman family. The attorney and client find it the absolute fault of the casino. ‘’They win and the house doesn’t want to payout. To me that’s just unfair, the machine takes your money when you lose. It ought to pay it when you win am I right?’’ says Ripka.

Ripka further argued that at least 6500 dollars must be paid to his client, which is the maximum payment of the machine. He also questioned the adequate maintenance and inspection of lottery equipment and broken machines on the part of the casino management. ‘’You can’t claim a machine is broken because you want it to be broken.’’ Thus Ripka. Does it mean it wasn’t inspected properly or does it mean it wasn’t maintained? And if so, does that mean that people that played there before didn’t have any chance of winning? This would prove their negligence and hinter at the possibility of resort world casino winners never getting a chance of winning. The casino malfunction lawsuit alleges that Resort World Casino’s parents company Getting New York LLC (video lottery operator) and IGT (slot machine maker), function as defendants and stay tight-lipped.

Bookman hasn’t lost her sense of humor, ‘’I feel I should win the max and I will treat them to a steak dinner, how about that?’’ she said with a slightly painful smile.

2021 updates

Bookman’s claim was denied, and the facts in her case stated that Sphinx Wild doesn’t offer any jackpot worth multimillion-dollar and malfunctioning of the Sphinx slot machine voids all pay-outs. The result of this case confirms the legal precedents that were already established in similar slot machine malfunction jackpot cases. Slot machines equipped with RNGs (Random Number Generators) can malfunction, and this is why casinos nowadays use the label “Malfunction voids all pays and plays “to protect their business. Bookman has been awarded nothing yet as the case is pending. She now seeks the amount of $43 million as damage caused to her by the casino on her mental health and wants a proper explanation of how the machine malfunctioned.

Similar case 

After years of battling in court, the judge came to a conclusion. Unfortunately, not in favor for Katrina Bookman. The judge found it a difficult matter, after a long time of digging through case law he came across a similar case.

This case concerned a 90-year-old grandmother of 13 grandchildren and widow from Iowa named Pauline McKee. You may wonder what a 90-year-old does in a casino, well this woman won $41 million here on a slot machine! This took place in 2011 at Isle Casino Hotel in Waterloo, behind a Hello Kitty slot machine. Unsuspectingly, the woman was playing her on favorite slot machine when suddenly the text ‘’The reels have rolled your way! Bonus Award $41,797,550.16’’appeared. McKee remained pretty calm when she saw how much money she had won. She was simply happy that she could help her children and grandchildren financially.

When the casino did not want to pay her, the two parties went to court. The Iowa Supreme Court came to the conclusion that the casino did not have to pay her out, at least not the huge amount of 41 million but the paltry amount of 1 dollar and 85 cents. McKee wasn’t incredibly surprised about the outcome of the judge. “I had doubts from the start, because that’s a lot of money for a penny machine,’’ she said. ‘’I was hoping to help my children out financially, but it wasn’t meant to be.’’

The court came to the conclusion to choose the side with the casino, they said the game’s rules capped jackpots at 10,000 dollars and didn’t allow bonuses. The court said the message about the bonus award was a gratuitous promise the casino didn’t have to honor.

In addition to the generous $1 and 85 cents, McKee was also offered a free hotel room by the casino as compensation. She still made use of that, but she never has to come into contact with the Isle Casino in Waterloo ever again.

The casino could have been forced in bankruptcy if it had gone the other way. A payout of that size would amount to about half of the gross revenue the casino generated in a year.

An expert said that casinos are required to post rules and follow them. If either the patrons or casinos could change the rules in the middle of the game, it would be complete chaos. Glitches on slot games are extremely rare according to the expert, but as you can read it isn’t as rare as she claims! Less than 5 years later, almost exactly the same thing happened at Bookman.

The aftertaste

The only aim gamblers have is to win, to win big. Otherwise, they won’t send their hard-earned money on a couple of games. Hitting a multimillion-dollar jackpot after playing and spinning over several years is really a life-changing moment for gamblers.

As you can imagine, these kinds of lawsuits do have a bitter aftertaste. Trust in both physical and online casinos is declining. Because let’s face it, why would you still believe casinos if slot machines are not checked properly and indicate error messages. For the same money you can play for hours on a slot machine and you had already won the jackpot 3 times.

Today the case has kind of disappeared, nothing is coming to light so we can only make assumptions. Given that it is not known that the record for highest jackpot has been broken, we can assume that for Bookman it really remained at 2 dollars and 25 cents and a steak.