$25K Slot Machine Win Leads to Violent Home Invasion Robbery in Milwaukee

Posted on: June 12, 2019, 08:02h. 

Last updated on: June 12, 2019, 10:43h.

The luck of a Milwaukee man and his roommate changed drastically this past weekend after being attacked, bound and robbed — in their home — of the money he had won days before at Wisconsin’s Potawatomi Hotel and Casino.

Hunter Marks (left) and Christopher Czarnecki were victims of a weekend home invasion in Milwaukee days after Czarnecki won $25,000 at a Wisconsin casino. (Image: WTMJ-TV)

Christopher Czarnecki got the win from the two separate visits this month to the slots at the gaming venue. He pocketed $12,000 on June 3 and $13,000 on June 5.

Some of the money went to buy a used car. Much of the balance wound up stored in a new safe that was kept in the residence.

“I was excited as heck,” Czarnecki told WTMJ-TV.

Only a few acquaintances knew he won. But on Saturday night, there was a knock at the rear door.

“The door kind of pushed opened a little bit while I was reaching for the handle,” roommate Hunter Marks told the TV station.

I looked to see a guy standing there with a mask on and a pistol pointing towards me. He nearly hit me in the mouth with it.”

Marks got into a struggle with the bandits.

“Next thing I know I see the first dude come in with the gun. Then I see two more people behind him,” Czarnecki recounted.

One of the thugs used the gun to strike Marks. Both Marks and his 77-year-old mother were restrained with plastic ties placed on their hands — as were Czarnecki and his girlfriend.

Czarnecki was ordered to open the safe.

“I thought they were going to kill me. I honestly did,” Czarnecki said.

The bandits scooped up the money. They forced the four victims into a bedroom.

Before fleeing, the robbers positioned a stove to block the bedroom door. Moments later, Czarnecki and Marks were able to kick open the door.

Any injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.

In hindsight, Czarnecki told the TV station if he won again, “the bank’s probably the better way.”

Police are continuing to look for the suspects.

High-Tech Robbers

Hearing a rumor about a winner is not the only way robbers find out someone has cash in their residence.

In 2015, robbers watched for frequent patrons in a Baltimore casino. They identified one, and then placed a GPS device on his car located nearby, and tracked him to his home.

Later, two residents were robbed at a Montgomery County residence where the identified gambler lived. Each was restrained by zip ties and bound by duct tape before the robbers fled with $6,000, according to The Washington Post.

Casinos Can Issue a Check

Following the Milwaukee robbery, the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino released a statement to WTMJ that — in part — reminds patrons big winners can opt to take their winnings in a check instead of cash.

While on casino property, winners can be escorted to their vehicle by venue security officers. Though that could bring more attention to them while at the casino.

Slot machine winners with higher payoffs will get attention automatically. A light goes off on the machine and music starts to play.

It can be five minutes or more before a staff member comes over. The employee may ask for an ID and may also check the machine for possible malfunctions.

Following that, perhaps 10 minutes will pass before the winner gets the cash. One employee may count out the money and another is likely there to watch.

Expect a much longer wait if a winner asked for a check from the casino. Often, banks will cash these checks quickly recognizing the venue and its credit trustworthiness.

Taking the money in cash is not a way around reporting about the winnings to tax authorities. A win over $1,200 is reported to the IRS automatically and winners will receive a W9 form.

Potawatomi Tribe Tries to Limit Competition

On another front, last November, the Potawatomi tribe agreed to an amended compact with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, ending a 15-year dispute over gambling expansion and revenue-share payments.

The tribe will withhold $250 million in payments to the state if another tribe is one day permitted to build a casino in the region.