Unsurprisingly, 44-year-old Katrina Bookman could hardly believe her eyes when the ‘SphinxWild’ slot machine that she was playing at the Resort World Casino in Queens, New York displayed ‘Printing cash ticket $42,949,672’. At no point did she stop to think that the basic, five-reel, 40-payline ‘penny slot’, which she was playing at $0.40 a spin, was not connected to the progressive jackpot network and, therefore, only capable of paying out up to $6,500. Instead, she excitedly took a selfie with the ‘winning’ message and, the following day, duly presented her ticket for payment.
However, she was quickly informed that the message was displayed as the result of a malfunction and, rather than the massive prize shown on the screen, she had won just $2.25. Dan Bank, spokesperson for Resort World, later told CNN, ‘Upon being notified of the situation, casino personnel were able to determine that the figure displayed on the penny slot was the result of an obvious malfunction.’ He offered to pay Bookman the money she had actually won, along with a complimentary steak dinner, to compensate for her disappointment.
Bookman, a single mother-of-four, furiously refused both. She had previously told ABC7 New York, ‘I can’t even describe the feeling. It’s like my whole body just got numb. I kept thinking about my family. The struggle I’ve been through, it’s hard to cope.’
Devastingly disappointed though she may have been, the Sphink Wild machine bore a disclaimer stating, ‘Malfunctions void all pays and plays.’ Consequently, after what was, palpably, an error, the decision not to pay out what would have been the largest jackpot in slot machine history was upheld by the New York State Gaming Commission. Bookman took the case to court but, at the time of writing, has still yet to receive any substantial settlement.