Never in her wildest dreams did Veronica expect to become a millionaire. Things like this just didn’t happen to people like her. 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? Her whole world had turned upside down in the blink of an eye! But she had no idea it was about to get even more complicated.
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.
As soon as Veronica set foot in the casino, an uneasy feeling crept up her spine. She didn’t know why, but something was telling her to leave. She looked at her mother who had a smile slapped across her face, engulfed by the bright lights of the casino.
As the mother-daughter duo walked along the red velvet carpet, Veronica suddenly saw something across the room. And it was something that left an uneasy feeling in her stomach.
Across the room, amid the hustle and bustle of the casino, Veronica noticed a man was standing against a slot machine. His eyes were fixated on Veronica. Every move she took, his eyes followed. What was his problem?
It didn’t look like this guy worked at the casino so what was he doing? A smirk crept across the man’s face and Veronica’s heart sank. But she had no idea her world was about to get turned upside down.
Just as Veronica was about to turn to her mother to tell her about the strange man, a piercing scream echoed throughout the casino. “They’re all liars!” the voice boomed. Veronica turned around to see where the noise was coming from and to her surprise, she saw that a middle-aged woman was getting kicked out.
“Everybody listen up, they’re all liars. They’re hiding something!” The woman shouted out before being dragged out by security. “Pretty strange,” Veronica thought. But she had no idea things were about to get even stranger.
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.
The duo sat down at a machine and got out their purses. As they rooted through their loose change, they had no idea how much drama would unfold simply by inserting a coin into a slot.
After Veronica picked a machine with a free one next to it, she sat down while her mother pulled up alongside her. The mother and daughter team took a selfie on their cellphones before getting ready to play the game.
If only Veronica had known what was about to flash up on the screen.
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 and go on vacation, probably get a new car, definitely a new house…
“Enough fantasizing!” she told herself. 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, a casino employee promptly came and unplugged the machine. But Veronica was too busy jumping up and down with excitement to even notice.
Then the employee turned to Veronica and her mother, and what they said shattered Veronica’s heart into pieces.
The employee insisted Veronica 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 before the screen went black. This wasn’t over.
Veronica complained to the manager of the casino. 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. The casino wasn’t going to get away with this.
“To me, it’s cheating, may even be fraudulent,” Veronica 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 didn’t want free dining… she wanted an explanation. And she was determined to get it no matter what.
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 to swallow for Veronica.
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. But things still didn’t make sense for Veronica. She needed to find out the truth.
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,” she said.
But still, she didn’t have a valid explanation. She knew she had to get the manufacturer involved. And so, the case continued.
The machine manufacturer responded. 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 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?
As of now, Veronica is still no closer to receiving her $8.5 million. Those idyllic thoughts of sunbathing in the Bahamas, driving around town in a Mercedes and purchasing a mansion that wouldn’t look out of place in the Hollywood Hills, seemed to slowly fade away in Veronica’s mind.
But the investigation is still ongoing, so there is a possibility she could get her rightly-deserved cheque. After all, it is hers, right?