Never in her wildest dreams did she expect to become a millionaire. She looked at her mother with tears in her eyes. “I won…” she whispered, her voice cracking.
She composed herself and went directly to collect her winnings. But the casino snatched her dreams from her with no reasonable explanation. What was happening?
Veronica Castillo wasn’t a big gambler; she never had that kind of money to lose. But when her mother suggested a trip to Washington, a visit to Rochester’s Lucky Eagle Casino eventually found its way onto their itinerary.
But when the Portland, Oregon mother-daughter team arrived at the gaming venue, they never dreamed they’d get so lucky so fast.
Veronica didn’t feel comfortable at the tables, she preferred to keep it simple and play the slots. Plus, she could sit with her mother and have fun just the two of them.
Veronica picked a machine with a free one next to it and sat down, while her mother pulled up alongside her. If only she’d known the drama this little game would cause.
Veronica – who worked long hours as a loan officer – pumped $100 into the machine. Even though she hadn’t won anything, that wasn’t really what the trip was about – it was about spending time together as a family.
She put her last coin into the Jurassic Riches machine before they were due to get dinner. Veronica pulled the lever. She just stared at what appeared on the screen, her mouth wide open.
The screen showed that Veronica had won $8.5 million! Was she seeing things? Without taking her eyes off the screen, she reached out to her mother, who was busy playing the other game, and shook her shoulder.
Her mother spat out her drink. Veronica was a millionaire! And she knew exactly what she would do with the money.
It wasn’t hard for Veronica to come up with things to spend the money on. She would obviously take care of her mom, probably get a new car, definitely a new house…
But that was enough fantasizing, it was time to go and make her dreams a reality. She approached a casino worker. But they were very quick to bring her down to Earth.
After seeing the huge jackpot number, an employee of the machine promptly came and unplugged it, insisting she couldn’t claim such a huge figure.
“They shut off the machine, took it away, printed out a ticket and gave me $80,” said Veronica. But luckily, she had taken a photo of the prize money on the screen before it went black. This wasn’t over.
Veronica complained to the manager. In addition to the $80 prize they claimed she had actually won, the Lucky Eagle Casino gave Veronica and her mother a guest suite for the rest of the weekend, as well as free dining. But Veronica still wasn’t happy.
“To me, it’s cheating, may even be fraudulent,” she stated. “My first thought was, ‘how many people has this happened to?’ They think they’ve won, then go away empty-handed.” She didn’t want complimentary hospitality, she wanted an explanation.
Veronica escalated the situation all the way to the top. Lucky Eagle Casino CEO, John Setterstrom, said this was the first time he’d experienced a guest winning a jackpot and being denied it like that. Something had gone seriously wrong.
And the reason she wouldn’t be given her prize money was very difficult for Veronica to swallow.
The casino worker claimed that the Jurassic Riches machine was simply malfunctioning and should have never displayed a jackpot as high as $8.5 million. The most it could have paid out in one game was just $6,000, based on Veronica’s bets.
At the time, Veronica was directed to a sticker on the machine that stated all payouts are voided if the machine breaks down. “I was very excited and happy, then I couldn’t believe it.” But the case continues.
Now the machine manufacturer is involved. In a statement, Rocket Gaming Systems, said, “We are in the process of conducting a forensic investigation to determine the cause of the display malfunction that occurred on the machine Ms. Castillo was playing.”
But this was now more important to Veronica than simply reclaiming the money that’s rightfully hers. She’s taking things further to make sure it never happens to another person again.
Veronica is now seeking an attorney to help with her situation and is telling her story to anyone that will listen.
“What I expect at the very least, is to create awareness about how the casinos work when the players get the big winnings,” she said in a damning Facebook post. Was it fair for the casino to deny her the jackpot?