In March, I blogged about a Colorado woman who thought she had won $42.9 million playing penny slots at the Fortune Valley Casino in Central City, Colorado. Even though the slot machine was indicating she had indeed won that amount, an attendant who came to check it out told her that the slot machine had malfunctioned. The casino proceeded to return the $23.00 the woman said she had put into the machine, and gave her a free room for the night and breakfast the next morning.
The Colorado Division of Gaming investigated the incident and reported last week that the woman should have received a payout of $20.18 instead of the $42 million the machine had indicated.
Quoting in length from the Division of Gaming press release:
"The investigation confirmed that Louise Chavez of Thornton placed a 40-cent wager shortly before 11:00 p.m. on March 26 on a "Price is Right" themed penny slot machine at Fortune Valley Hotel & Casino in Central City. As a result of the wager, the slot machine should have awarded 80 credits (80 cents) for four "Fabulous Trip" symbols displayed on the game’s five reels, 700 credits ($7.00) for a "Grand Game" bonus round triggered by the base game award, 426 credits ($4.26) for a "Showcase Showdown" community bonus game, and 812 credits ($8.12) for a second "Showcase Showdown" community bonus game."
That adds up to $20.58 cents, minus the 40 cent wager, hence, her real winnings were $20.18. The press release went on to say:
"A review of the game history screens on the slot machine on the night of the incident revealed all of the awards, except for the $7.00 Grand Game award. As a result, the casino offered Ms. Chavez an award of $23.43 that night ($13.18 for the other three awards and $10.25 for the credits remaining on the credit meter after making the 40-cent wager). The Division has instructed the slot machine manufacturer and operator of the wide-area progressive system on which the slot machine resided, WMS Gaming Inc., headquartered in Waukegan, Ill., to pay the additional $7.00."
"The forensic investigation isolated the error as being the result of the two Showcase Showdown awards occurring quickly after each other while the Grand Game bonus feature was already in play, thus creating an error in mathematical calculations built into the game software."
"The top award on the slot machine at the time was $251,183.16. However, a maximum wager of 400 credits ($4.00) was required to be made to be eligible for the award. Ms. Chavez’s 40-cent minimum wager would have made her eligible for 20,000 credits ($200) had the game’s five reels revealed the five "Progressive" symbols needed to win the top award."
The Division of Gaming said that Ms. Chavez of notified by mail of its findings. She has retained a lawyer, but news reports says he was unavailable for comment.
News reports also don't say if Fortune Valley Casino or WMS Gaming Inc has sent Ms. Chavez a check for the amount of the $7.00 she is still owed.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.