Touch screen rules on Miss Kitty slot machine voided jackpot mistake, state supreme court says

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In 87-year-old Illinois grandmother was entitled only to $1.85 in a penny slots win, even though her Miss Kitty slot machine announced a bonus of nearly $41.8 million, according to the Iowa Supreme Court.

Pauline McKee of Antioch, Illinois, was playing on the machine in July 2011 at the Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo in Iowa when she was informed “the reels have rolled your way,” giving her a bonus award of $41,797,550.16, according to the Iowa Supreme Court opinion (PDF).

If McKee had read the touch screen rules, she would have been informed that the game did not pay any bonuses, and “malfunction voids all pays and plays.” The problem was attributed to a hardware error, a “rare and unlikely circumstance,” according to a 2010 technical notice by the manufacturer. The casino did not install the “nonmandatory upgrade” to prevent the problem.

The state supreme court concluded that the touch screen rules formed a mandatory contract that gave McKee no right to a bonus. McKee had argued that the casino should have heeded the manufacturer’s warnings. “However, this a tort theory, rather than a contract one,” the court said. “From a contract law perspective, what matters is whether some express or implied agreement gave McKee a right to a bonus, not whether the casino may have been negligent.”

How Appealing and the Legal Profession Blog noted the opinion. The Associated Press, and Ars Technica have stories.

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