Veronica Castillo went to the casino to have some fun. Eventually, she went from winning to losing within minutes. She hit the jackpot for a whopping $8.5 million, only to find out that she actually didn't win. Why? Because the casino refused to pay.
This one-of-a-kind story takes her from slot machines to raising awareness behind the reality of using the machines.
Taking A Risk On The Slot Machine
Portland native Veronica Castillo hoped that one day, she might be lucky enough to experience a life-changing win. She's not much of a gambler, but considering what she saw on TV and in the news, she wanted to try her luck. That's when she decided to stop off at the Lucky Eagle Casino in Rochester, Washington State.
As soon as she got to the casino, her attention was drawn to the slot machines.
A Relaxing Day Turned Into Something Else Entirely
Since many people walk in and out of casinos every day, Veronica thought she'd go there for a good time. After all, she was on a trip and wanted to relax during her time away from home. However, something at the back of her mind popped up.
She hoped that maybe something unexpected would occur out of the blue. Nevertheless, Veronica realized that the chances were next to nothing that something would happen, but she tried her luck anyway.
A Chance To Beat The Odds
One thing's for sure, Veronica is no fool. She knows that casino games, including slot machines, usually favor "the house." That means the chances of winning a big jackpot a slot machine is extremely low. It doesn't stop people from spending hours and dropping hundreds of dollars on the same machine.
While those folks never got anything in return for their money and time, Veronica didn't care. She went for it.
Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner
In November of 2015, Veronica decided she was going to spend some time on the same machine. It's like a little trick, where people pick their favorite machines or slots that their gut "has a good feeling about." Essentially, they spend hours pulling the same lever over-and-over again.
Veronica picked a machine, sat down, and inserted $100. The first spin was a dud, she pulled a second time and was in awe to see what she won.
One Interesting Bit About Slot Machines
Before we find out what happened to Veronica, let's pause for a moment. Slot machines are one of the most popular attractions in any casino. People have the advantage to win at any time. All it takes is a coin, a click, and a pull on the lever. However, slot machines are anything but easy.
Interestingly enough, the computerized technological innovations actually have some of the most advanced technology in the gaming industry.
What's That All About?
Essentially, it's all about the random number generator. A random number generator has a highly complex software program which randomizes all outcomes. That ensures that every spin generates a result that is independent of the previous in every way. Slot machines include a currency detector that validates that money was inserted to play.
Despite being the most popular gambling method in casinos, many modern machines are still equipped with the lever in addition to the button.
It's A New Thing At The Casinos
Malfunctioning slot machines are a recent phenomenon. Malfunctions occur due to the relation of the complexity of the software inside the machine. Prior to the sixties, the old-fashioned style slot machines would use random spinning drums which were impossible to malfunction. The early electro-mechanical machines in the sixties and seventies were unsophisticated with low maximum payouts.
Even if one did malfunction, it likely went unnoticed since slots offered a small return.
Be Aware When You Play The Slots
Pay attention to your payout. It's always going to be less than your odds of winning a slot game. One other thing you should be aware of is that every time you spin the reel, a random outcome will come out. Basically, that means that the outcome is no different from blackjack, or a video poker game.
Playing the slots gives the casino an edge in the long-term. It's something to keep in mind!
Veronica Got A Life-Changing Prize
No, Veronica didn't win $20. Surprisingly, the cash prize she won on the slots was $8.5 million! She couldn't believe what just transpired in front of her eyes. While she sat there in total shock and amazement, she couldn't believe what she was seeing.
Can you imagine randomly walking into a casino and winning close to $10 million? Neither can I, but Veronica played her cards right and somehow beat the odds!
The Dream Of The Luxury Life
Naturally, Veronica started to think of everything she could do with her prize money. $8.5 million would be enough to live a life of luxury like athletes and celebrities enjoy. It's no different than someone winning the lottery. If you won that amount on your ticket, that's enough for anyone to quit their job right on the spot!
Unfortunately, for our friend, Veronica's dreams and fantasies were about to be dashed.
From Rags To Riches On Repeat
Moments after she "won" her cash prize, casino workers came to her. They had informed her that she didn't win anything at all. They revealed to her that the slot machine she was playing on was defective.
It had an error which made it seem like she won all the cash for herself. But, thanks to a shot of reality, she'd be going home empty-handed. Veronica was devastated to hear this news.
$8.5 Million Turned Into A Much Smaller Prize
After what Veronica went through at the slots, what could go wrong next? Well, the casino worke turned off and unplugged the machine Veronica was playing on. Afterward, instead of receiving $8.5 million, she was given a check of a low sum of $80.35.
If you think about it, it's rather shady and pathetic that it came to that conclusion. Anyone would be in disbelief after it happened to them too.
It's A Convenient Excuse For The Casino
Veronica was disappointed after her prize money was significantly less than she actually 'won'. She couldn't understand what was happening to her, which is why she demanded an explanation.
In the casinos' response, the staff showed her a sticker on the side of the slot machines. On the side, it stated that all winnings could become void in case of a machine malfunction. That certainly seems like a nice catch-all.
Did The Casino Cheat Out Veronica?
Veronica listened patiently as the casino staff tried to figure out all of this nonsense. However, it didn't stop her from overhearing all of the lame excuses and seeing the stickers. She wasn't buying anything or what the staff told her to believe.
In her own words, the entire situation seemed like she was "cheated." She even accused the casino of 'fraudulent' behavior and wondered if she was just one of many victims of this whole thing.
The Casino Launches An Investigation
John Setterstrom, head of the Lucky Eagle Casino, understood Veronica's complaints. But, he insisted that the casino was in the right. Setterstrom said he was working at the location for many years, going back to the casino's opening in 1995. He's never seen a single case occur at this very casino.
In addition to that, he said that a full investigation was going to be launched and why the machine made a costly error.
Lucky Eagle Casino Releases An Official Statement
A short while after Setterstrom's comments, an official statement was made. Now, the statement didn't bring much to comfort Veronica, but it showed the casino was at least taking the matter seriously. And, they were trying to get to the bottom of the situation too.
In the casino's statement, they said that Rocket Gaming Systems, the manufacturers of the machine, were doing an in-depth investigation into the malfunction of the slot machine.
But, There Were More Explanations From The Issue
The casino shared specific information about the machine in order to prove that it had malfunctioned and they didn't make any excuses to get out paying Veronica of her $8.5 million cash prize. The statement further explained that the machine is only capable of having a maximum jackpot of $20,000. Essentially, the idea of being offered millions is almost impossible.
With the amount of money Veronica was betting, she couldn't have won more than $6,000.
An Official Apology Was Issued
After what happened, the casino released an apology to Veronica. They added that they shared a sense of "deep regret" over the situation. It's very clear that the casino staff understood that the whole matter must have been a dramatic experience for Veronica.
It's almost impossible to imagine how it must feel to think you've won a huge cash prize that was stolen away seconds later. The disappointment was simply heartbreaking.
How Does A Slot Machine Malfunction?
According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, here's how. There are over 209,000 slot machines normally operating on a 24/7 basis in Nevada. On rare occasions, there are malfunctions. They occur for plenty of reasons, including improper tampering, coin jams, empty hoppers, and switch failures.
Plus, there are computer chip failures, power outages, and the accidental contact of someone "bumping" into one of the slot machines as they casually walk by.
Has This Happened Before?
As it turns out, it's happened before. In 2016, 44-year-old Katrina Bookman thought she hit the jackpot when she won $42.9 million at Resorts World Casino in Queens, New York. People from all over the casino began to congratulate her.
However, security took her to the side, and she was told the machine had malfunctioned. There would be no payday for Katrina, but she didn't hesitate to hire a lawyer. The case is still pending.
And, There Was Another Malfunction
Then there's the case of Jerry, a 55-year-old construction worker who was playing the slot machines with his wife, Kim. The pair thought they had won $1.3 million at the Wind Creek Casino in Montgomery, Alabama.
Of course, another machine just had to malfunction out of the blue. That was the very reason why Jerry and Kim were denied their prize money. Like Katrina, Jerry also hired a lawyer too.
In 2015, 90-year-old Pauline McKee thought she won $41 million at the Isle Casino Hotel in Waterloo, Iowa. She was playing the Hello Kitty slot machine, and ended up suing the casino, but lost.
The Iowa Supreme Court said she had no case because of the maximum payout on the machine was $10,000 and "$41.8 million bonus award" the device indicated was illogical. McKee instead was awarded $1.85 million and legal fees.
And Another One
Paul Kusznirewicz of Canada won $43 million on a Buccaneer slot machine in Barrie, Ontario. The owner of the casino informed Paul he didn't win because the maximum payout was just over $9,000. Instead, he offered him dinner buffet coupons, and he sued.
Like the other cases, the maximum payout is a lot lower than what the machine displayed as the winning amount. Apparently, all slot machines have a sign on them that reads "malfunction voids all pays and plays."
Here's A Case With A Happy Ending
In 2014, a Canadian woman won $100,000 at the Lake City Casino in British Columbia on Dragon Fever slots. The maximum payout was supposed to be $1,000, but that's not what happened. A spokesperson for the B.C. Lottery Corporation explained:
"We couldn't confirm what the jackpot amount was supposed to be. Therefore, accordingly, we determined the appropriate course of action was to pay that erroneously displayed prize amount to the player."
Perhaps It's Worth To Gamble Up North
Consequently, the B.C. Lottery Corporation paid the woman the full $100,000. Afterward, they went after Konami, the makers of the slot machine, for the difference. The casino also went ahead and removed 189 similar machines from the casinos. Just so they can inspect them to make sure the same incident wouldn't occur.
After seeing some of the stories happen in Canada, maybe it might be time to hit up the slots up north.
Veronica Did Walk Away With A Few Freebies
The casino offered Veronica some additional bonuses to try and compensate her for the whole experience. Veronica was provided with a full weekend stay in one of the casino's guest suites at no charge and was given free meals during her visit as well. Those aren’t bad freebies, but they seem pretty small compared to the jackpot she thought she’d won.
I would demand an open bar throughout the duration of my stay.
Veronica Was Not A Happy Camper
$8.5 million can't replace a couple of nights in a hotel and some free food. Veronica had every belief that she'd rightfully won that cash and that the casino had cheated her out of it. In fact, she almost felt offended by the idea of the hotel offering her a weekend stay in one of its rooms.
Why would she want to return to a place where she'd been forced to experience something so horrible?
How Did Veronica Respond To The Whole Thing?
Well, since the fake jackpot incident occurred, she's been looking for advice on the best way to see how to approach the situation. From her perspective, she's owed money, and she wanted to see if other people agreed with her on the matter.
Veronica has since spoken to legal experts. Then, she shared the story across social media to see what other people's reactions to this situation would be if they were in her shoes.
She's Raising Awareness To Save Others
Veronica decided to share her story on social media. She wanted to let other people know what happened to her by raising awareness. By doing so, she believes that people need to be aware of how casinos function and be aware that they reserve the right to cancel big winnings.
Overall, having lived through such a rough experience, Veronica didn't want anyone else to have to feel the bitter disappointment in the future.
There Are Trade Secrets Of Casinos
Your moves are automatically tracked by the casino. Right from the moment you sit down at a slot, then enter your player card and cash. Slot machines are networked with their hardware and their software to play Big Brother on you. The information is then analyzed and delivered to the casino marketing department.
That way, they can work out the best possible way to market their casino and its slots too.
It's Kind Of Scary
Okay, despite the secret being similar to Big Brother, it doesn't sound like fun. Casino marketing departments will likely begin to use security technology and track your playings. Facial recognition programs can associate you with a player's card. Or, create a new player account, then track everything you do on the surveillance.
It's too bad that not many security guards at casinos watched the card movie 21 before, or have they?
Slots Make You Happy For A Reason
There are teams of psychologists and researchers that helped shape what the modern slot machine looks like. They advise what sounds, colors, movements, and graphics are to be used in casino games. Essentially, this is used in a way that makes the player feel as happy as possible while hitting up the machines.
However, this isn't very good for players. This can lead to things like a gambling addiction. So, be careful and be aware before hitting the slots.
Many Casinos Pump Oxygen Into Their Casinos
Believe it or not, many casinos pump oxygen into their casinos. Why would they do that? Well, it’s because it gives long-term gamblers a reason to stay longer. If they feel sleepy after numerous hours of playing, they’re likely to go home.
However, if they’re breathing in fresh oxygen, then they’ll feel more refreshed and awake and will want to play longer. Thus, the cycle allows them to drop more money.
Drinks Are On The House
If you've been to a casino, you probably noticed that the booze is free. It's no different than attending a friend's wedding and realizing that it's an open bar. It really is the best of both worlds since people love free stuff! And sometimes even the food.
This is nothing more than a classic trick to keep you around. If you’re tipsy and happily fed, what's the point of leaving, right?
There's Something Behind The Carpets At Casinos
There's something interesting behind the psychedelic carpets of pretty much all casinos. Whenever you walk into a casino, do you notice how ugly looking all the carpets look? Well, there's a reason why they appear like that.
It's nothing more than a distraction to keep you awake. Yes, carpets have a tendency to make you alert. Now you know that it's a tactic to get people to continue to gamble.
Casinos Do Their Part And Set The Mood
Casinos have the ability to set up the mood for you to stick around. There are a few factors as to why they always do this. First, the lights are never dim, and there are no clocks. Lastly, the music is on a continuous hypnotic loop as if it were a playlist from Spotify.
The goal is apparent: to keep you unaware of how long you've been in the casino.
The House Will Always Win
We've all heard this line at least once before in our lives. In some games, the House is way more likely to win than in others. Games like Three-Card Poker, Caribbean Stud, and Double Exposure Blackjack may have bigger payouts in the end. However, these games also have much bigger losses for the players.
It's something to remember when you feel like hitting the cards table at the casino.
And, The House Is Always Watching
If you know by now, the casinos are like Big Brother. Essentially, you're being watched with every move you make. Casinos have surveillance cameras to look out for criminals who prey on cheating or beating the system. However, the casino also monitors all of the players too. And, on top of that, they can zoom in on your cards if they wanted to.
If you're on a roll and winning big, they'll watch you even more.
The Quest For Justice Continues For Veronica
Veronica's story continues to be shared. She's still seeking advice on what actions to take next. But, it remains to be known if she'll ever get the justice she deserves. And, it also remains to be seen if casinos will take action to raise awareness about the rules and rights of individual players.
The whole story is quite sketchy, but just imagine if you were in Veronica's shoes during this situation?
Veronica's Story Might Inspire Others To Do The Same
After all of what Veronica had to go through, this seems like a hassle. It's understandable why the casino would argue that the slot machines malfunction from time-to-time. But, the casinos, on their part, should at least give these people some money for winning something.
And, in Veronica's situation, that should open the door for more people to come forward. Who knows, maybe someone else is in Veronica's situation as we speak.