A gambler in Florida who asked a female friend to hit the button on a slot “for luck” was instead served up a dose of brutal misfortune when the woman left the casino with the subsequent $100,000 jackpot never to be seen again.

Jan Flato Loses $100,000 Jackpot

Easy come, easy go: Jan Flato wants to warn other gamblers of the perils of letting other people push your buttons. (Image: Patrick Farrell/Miami Herald)

Jan Flato was feeding money into the Double Top Dollar slot machine at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 31, but it was 35-year-old Marina Medvedeva Navarro who actually set the reels spinning, which, under Florida’s gambling laws, made her the rightful winner.

When casino managers checked the video, amid all the hubbub of ringing bells flashing lights, they noted that it was Navarro who pushed the button that made the jackpot appear. Following the letter of the law, SHR executives awarded her $50,000 in cash and a $50,000 check.

Sadly for Flato, his friend wasn’t in a sharing mood, and, to add insult to injury, she asked armed security to”keep an eye on him” as she left.

Don’t Push My Buttons

The unfortunate Flato told the Miami Herald he had decided to go public in order to help other gamblers avoid similar trauma.   

“I want everybody to know what happened so it won’t happen to them,” he said. “I’ve played slots all over the country and never had a problem like that. Even the people handing out the money said, ‘This isn’t right.’”

Asked whether he had sought legal advice, Flato said he was told he didn’t have a leg to stand on. “No one would take the case. That jackpot money is long gone,” he noted ruefully.

Seminole spokesman Gary Bitner said he would offer no further comment, as such matters are confidential, other than to reiterate that the casino was merely following the correct rules and procedures.     

“The person who pushes a slot machine button or pulls the arm is the person who wins the jackpot,” he said.

Winner, Winner, Steak Dinner

Flato is not the only American to have had a miserable experience when hitting a slot machine jackpot recently. Last August, Katrina Bookman believed she had won $42,949,672, which flashed up on the screen of the Sphinx slot at Resorts World Casino in Queens, New York. That win would, incidentally, have been the largest slot machine win in US gaming history. Except that it wasn’t.

It was delicately explained to Bookman that the machine had malfunctioned and that “malfunctions void all pays and plays.” Instead, she was offered $2.25 and a complimentary steak dinner.

Still, that’s better than a kick in the teeth.

The casino explained that slot malfunctions are rare, although not as rare, apparently, as $42 million jackpot wins.