Arizona Casino Says Faulty Lightbulb Deceived Slot Machine Gambler, Pays $4K Instead of $50K Jackpot

Posted on: November 23, 2018, 08:03h. 

Last updated on: November 23, 2018, 08:03h.

An Arizona casino told a gambler who thought he had won a $50,000 slot machine jackpot that a faulty lightbulb was responsible for displaying an inaccurate outcome.

Arizona casino slot jackpot Talking Stick
Ryan Sherry believes an Arizona casino should have to pay a $50,000 slot jackpot despite a faulty lightbulb that wrongly said he won. (Image: Patrick Breen/Arizona Republic/

Scottsdale’s Talking Stick Resort and Casino, a Native American venue owned by the Salt River Pima–Maricopa Indian Community, said the machine’s algorithm was still operating properly. The controversy was the result of a blown orange lightbulb that made a “7” appear red.

Ryan Sherry, 47, compared what he thought was a jackpot, and determined he was owed $50,000 based off the machine’s accompanying payout chart. But when he cashed out, his ticket said his $100 wager only won $4,000.

As to why the slot machine was still in operation despite a blown lightbulb, Sherry explains he was told, “It doesn’t have to come off the floor. Doesn’t matter as long as the algorithm that we can’t see is paying properly.”

“When a slot machine says it’s going to pay you something, you deserve to get paid that money,” Sherry concluded. He says he guarantees it won’t happen again to him, because he won’t be returning to Talking Stick.

Machine Error

With their bright lights, dazzling sounds, and abundance of betting opportunities, slot machines are known for their ability to convince bettors they’re just won more spin away from a massive win. It’s why US casinos make more money from the devices than any table game.

So, when the machines error, it’s understandable many gamblers believe they’re again being taken. But state gaming laws protect casinos from being on the hook for faulty equipment.

In 2016, a New York woman believed she had won a $42.9 million jackpot. After all, the machine display told her she indeed had won the largest slot machine payout in US history. But casino staff at Resorts World New York City told her the terminal malfunctioned.

Slot machines in New York come with a disclaimer that states, “Malfunction voids all pays and plays.” Resorts World said the maximum payout on the device in question is $6,500, meaning the $42.9 million result was impossible in a properly functioning machine.

The woman was instead handed a voucher for a free steak dinner at the RW Prime Steakhouse.

Riches to Rags

They say humans aren’t machines, and therefore error, but machines also aren’t perfect. Neither are slots.

The Resorts World New York City jackpot story isn’t the only time a slots player thought they had become a multimillionaire, only to discover that was far from the case.

A 90-year-old grandmother thought she had won a $41.7 million jackpot at an Iowa casino in 2015. But that machine had also malfunctioned, and staff at the Isle Casino in Waterloo determined she was owed $1.85. A legal battle ensued, with the Iowa Supreme Court later agreeing with the casino.

The costliest slot malfunction we could find occurred back in 2011 in an Austria casino. A man thought he had won a $57 million jackpot, but was told it was the result of machine error and was instead offered a $100 meal credit.