The Isle Casino Hotel in Waterloo, Iowa, was the sudden birthplace of plans and dreams of 90-year-old Pauline McKee after the penny slot machine she was playing told her she had won over $41 million.
Her reaction was quite calm, even knowing the amount of money she had won was astounding. According to the Chicago Tribune, McKee was at a family reunion in 2011 and visiting the Isle Casino Hotel. She played the “Miss Kitty” slot machine and won 185 credits, and the machine told her via a screen message, “The reels have rolled your way! Bonus Award $41,797,550.16.”
The grandmother of 13 had plans, even after some hesitation, for the huge sum of money she assumed the Isle Casino Hotel would pay out to her.
“I had my doubts from the start, because that’s a lot of money for a penny machine. I was hoping to help my children out financially, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
Unfortunately, Pauline was right. The $41.8 million wasn’t meant to be, and the Isle Casino Hotel in Waterloo wasn’t prepared to pay out such a large amount of money to any of its winners.
McKee tried to sue for the prize, and the case went up to the Iowa Supreme Court. On Friday, the court ruled the Isle Casino Hotel did not have to pay for the bet. The slot machine had a software error, which had a glitch. The glitch told Pauline McKee she had won the huge prize, but the rules state jackpots are capped at $10,000 and there are no bonuses.
There is a sign posted on the front of the machine which reads, “Malfunction voids all pays and plays.”
However, the Isle Casino Hotel gave McKee the $1.85, or 185 credits, that she won on the slot machine, and they gave her a free night’s stay. While McKee waited that night, the investigating supervisor gave her a $10 card to play at the casino and paid her other legitimate winnings.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the casino’s vice president contacted McKee’s family and paid for additional rooms and assured McKee the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission would be contacted so the slot machine could be studied.
The commission later determined the machine’s hardware mistakenly issued the bonus winnings. According to Ars Technica, the company which built the hardware, Aristocrat Technologies, issued a bulletin in 2010 to casinos warning that it knew about the “bonus” glitch but determined it was a rare occurrence. The bulletin suggested casinos turn off that part of the system so the glitch could not occur, but the Isle Casino Hotel did not do so.
Stacey Cormican, one of the hotel’s attorney’s, said the Isle Casino Hotel would have gone bankrupt if it would have been forced to pay out the $41 million jackpot.