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Congrats, You've Won the Jackpot.....NOT!!!

#1 Postby TexasStooge » Wed Mar 01, 2006 12:58 pm

'Malfunctioned' win spurs Oklahoma casino questions


While Oklahoma has become Las Vegas' competition by drawing in Texas residents to its 85 casinos and bingo parlors, Indian property gambling regulations have some questioning their rules and fairness.

An Arlington man said he thought his life would be forever changed when he was told he had won $11,289,874.74 after playing on a WinStar Casino machine that displayed the word "Congratulations!"

While Stanley Rosemond's life did change, it wasn't in the way he expected—and it was without $11 million.

Last summer, Rosemond went to WinStar, 85 miles north of Dallas. After the casino slot "big win," he was escorted to the cashier's booth, where he said employees seemed excited for him.

"The attendant inside shows me the numbers and says, 'Would you like to see what you've won?'" he said.

But after waiting several hours, Rosemond and his wife were taken to a large empty room and were seated before casino officials.

"[There was] four of them and two of us, and they're on one side and we're on the other side," Rosemond said. "We don't know what to expect."

The mood got less festive when the casino told Rosemond there would be no $11 million prize coming his way.

"He says, 'OK, your machine malfunctioned, so we can't pay you,'" Rosemond recalled.

Rosemond failed to spot a tiny warning label on the WinStar machine: "Malfunctions void all plays and pays."

That didn't stop him from feeling as though the casino should still pay up.

"You shouldn't have a machine that malfunctions," he said. "It should work, and if it doesn't, work the casino should stand behind it, because they are taking people's money away."

William Thompson, who teaches public administration at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, is an expert in the gambling business. He said while slot machines can malfunction, the casinos owe it to their customers to pay them unless the player is cheating.

Las Vegas slot machines can clear $100,000 a year per machine, he said.

"You pay the player off," he said. "Your machine was wrong. You screwed up. How about a malfunction when the player's supposed to win and it shows a loss?"

WinStar Casinos, which is owned by the Chickasaw Indian tribe, declined to talk on camera to News 8.

In a written statement, WinStar said, "Mr. Rosemond is claiming a win bigger than the machine could possibly pay based on the type of machine, the denomination and the wager."

The tribe said the machine could only pay only $5,000.

Rosemond said WinStar offered him a series of take it or leave it settlements that started out at $800, which he turned down.

They subsequently offered Rosemond $1,199, which is $1 less than the casino would have to report to the IRS. They said he could accept it on the spot or leave with nothing.

"We didn't know what we could do," Rosemond said.

Rosemond said he took the casino's offer because he felt trapped. He tried to keep the one key piece of evidence from WinStar of his "malfunctioned" win—a card given to every WinStar player that tracks their identity and winnings.

However, once he was told he had won big, casino officials confiscated it. Despite asking for the card back, Rosemond left without it after the assistant general manager said the card belonged to the Chickasaw Nation.

"This is duress," Thompson said. "Any signature in those situations is under duress [and] should have no legal standing."

Kay Vanwey, who was hired as Rosemond's lawyer after he returned from Oklahoma, was stopped in her tracks when she discovered the tribe would not let her take legal action in the case.

"It is the Chickasaw Nation that makes the laws," Vanwey said. "It is the Chickasaw Nation that interprets the laws. It is the Chickasaw Nation that enforces the laws."

She received a letter from the tribe's lawyer saying, "All inquiries you make may be at your own personal peril and those people you hope to represent."

"If the intent was to intimidate me and frighten me, I certainly took it that way," she said.

WinStar is the largest of 11 Chickasaw casinos in Oklahoma, casinos that netted more than $91 million last year, according to tribal records.

Complaints about payment from Oklahoma Indian casinos are not rare.

Oklahoma Assistant Attorney General Bill Leader said he gets about a dozen complaints from gamblers at [Oklahoma] Indian casinos a year, but has no jurisdiction in resolving them.

Back in Las Vegas, Bill Thompson minces no words about the lesson behind this.

"You ought to have a sign on the border of Oklahoma: 'You're about to enter Oklahoma and gamble in a casino. Two things can happen. They are both bad. You can lose and you can win. You ain't getting paid,'" he said.

Last November, Rosemond received a summons from the Chickasaw tribal court in Oklahoma. He was the subject of a legal action, and in a declaratory judgment, the tribe said the case was closed.

News 8 asked the Chickasaw Nation how many casino malfunctions they have a year; they did not reply.

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#2 Postby storm4u » Wed Mar 01, 2006 1:28 pm

that sucks for them i would make sure i got my money!! They would be in court as soon as i could get them there thats messed up!!!!

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#3 Postby gtalum » Wed Mar 01, 2006 2:20 pm

This is a good reason to never play the slots. Always stick to table games.

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#4 Postby alicia-w » Thu Mar 16, 2006 11:59 am

there are notices on most slot machines that i've ever seen that indicate malfunctions void all payoffs. the same thing happened to a lady playing in one of the reservation casinos around Phoenix.

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#5 Postby TexasStooge » Fri Apr 28, 2006 6:53 am

More complaints of Winstar 'malfunctions'


While the Winstar Casino just over the Red River in Oklahoma had a million customers last year, some said they were more than not happy with the service.

More customers have come forward and complained that after winning on the casino's machines, they were denied their jackpots.

An old saying goes, "He who has the gold, makes the rules." At Winstar that actually is the case because the casino is owned by the Chickasaw Indian tribe, and tribal laws rule there.

If the tribe says a machine "malfunctioned," the customer doesn't receive their winnings.

That rule has some questioning what exactly is a malfunction? The casino isn't too precise in defining that.

Donna Cooper thought she won big after she got three matching symbols and the machine displayed she won $750 in 2005.

"When I called over the attendant he had this little quirky smile on his face and he said, 'It looks like a winner to me, but I don't know what's wrong,'" Cooper said.

She waited two and a half hours while technicians decided if the machine was working correctly. The verdict was it wasn't and she wouldn't receive any winnings.

The reason they said they could deny her winning was small print on front of the machine that read "malfunction voids plays and pays," and the casino said her machine malfunctioned.

Misty Kretzschmar worked at Winstar for two years serving soft drinks on the casino floor. She said she continually heard customers complaining about not being paid.

"It was always chalked up to a machine malfunction," she said. "... They would go up to the cashier cages and complain to the cashiers and gripe them out for not winning...They basically would go unheard. They would just tell them, you know, it was a machine malfunction."

Elena Parker also thought she won big at the casino, and at first Winstar agreed.

"They said come back and pick up your money next week," she said.

So, Parker drove all the way from Dallas only to be told she wouldn't be getting her money because the machine had malfunctioned. The only proof of the alleged malfunction came from a letter from an unseen technician from an unidentified city.

"I was really upset," she said. "It's not just the $640 dollars, it's the way they treat you."

Malfunctions seem to be just as baffling to Kim Cook, a newly hired spokesperson for Winstar Casino, as it is to customer.

When asked to explain how a consumer would think they won and hadn't she said, "I'm not really sure."

Winstar's machines are controlled by servers that track glitches, anomalies, and malfunctions.

But despite the malfunction disclaimer on every machine, Winstar's manager Jack Vanderslice said he couldn't really define how his computers track malfunctions.

"[There are] very, very few malfunctions where there would be a dispute with a customer over what the machine paid out," he said.

Winstar ultimately said out of one million customers it had 162 complaints over the past year that went to the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission .

But complaints are not the same as malfunctions. The casino says it tracks every event that occurs within a machine by computer, but not malfunctions specifically.

Kretzschmar also said a lot of customers were intimidated into not complaining at all.

Margaret Daniels said she experienced that first-hand.

She said after a winning screen flashed on the machine she was playing there were suddenly attendants standing all around her.

"About ten or twelve of them came and they completely surrounded me," she said. "And I said, 'Why are all of you here? What did I win?' And they said, 'Ma'am you didn't win anything.'"

She also said there were a few times machines would shut down and times the electricity went off.

The casino said except for some isolated instances early this year and normal maintenance issues, that doesn't happen.

"You can probably still talk to any customer who plays there and they are going to tell you that the electricity has gone off most likely when they are winning," Kretzschmar said.

While some may have been intimidated, Cooper said she was not.

"I think they just hoped I'd go away," she said. "That was the feeling I got."

Cooper wrote letter after letters and was eventually awarded a $750 win, but her story didn't end there.

The casino didn't want to give her a check and originally offered $750 worth of casino credits, but she said she held out for real money.
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#6 Postby TexasStooge » Fri May 05, 2006 6:58 am

Abramoff's casino connection raises questions


The answer to why North Texans have to drive 75 miles to the Oklahoma border to drop a quarter in a slot machine seems to be a complex mixture of money, politics, morality—and possibly even immorality.

There are Indian tribes in East, South and West Texas, but Texans can only place bets at one Indian reservation along the Mexico border.

However, Indian gambling is a $20 billion annual business elsewhere in the United States, and people who want shares of that pot have spent millions on lobbyists trying to influence gaming in Texas.

One of the most notorious lobbyists in history already blazed a trail of corruption through the Texas legislature, and he may have set a precedent for the future.

Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to conspiracy and wire fraud five months ago, and what he did in the Texas legislature five years ago to influence gambling may have been a companion to that crime.

Gambling is illegal in Texas, but the state is surrounded by casinos run by Indian tribes where Texans like to play.

There is the Louisiana Coushatta casino three-and-a-half hours from Houston, the Mississippi Choctaws with a casino resort, the Chickasaws of Oklahoma with Winstar casino north of Dallas, and the Oklahoma Choctaws with their own casino north of Dallas.

"A casino in Oklahoma, Louisiana or Texas is a license to print money—droves and droves of money," said Andrew Wheat of Texans for Public Justice.

House Bill 514 was written to legalize Indian gambling in Texas.

But two of Abramoff's clients—the Louisiana Coushattas and the Mississippi Choctaws—didn't want gambling in Texas because it would cut into their business. So it appears that Abramoff charged the Indians more than $1 million and set out to defeat the bill as it was working its way through the Texas legislature.

Documents obtained by News 8 through U.S. Senate files show how Abramoff did it.

He enlisted the help of Ralph Reed of Georgia, an old college friend who founded a group called the Christian Coalition on the religious right.

Records showed hundreds of thousands of dollars went from the Indians to Abramoff through a foundation he controlled called the American International Center. It then went to a company Reed controlled called Century Strategies.

Abramoff used money from two Indian tribes to mobilize the religious right to oppose gambling from other tribes.

In an email from Reed to Abramoff, Reed said one of his "Texas Operatives" said the plan was working.

"Abramoff channeled the money through the Indians and through various Shell companies..., Century Strategies and Ralph Reed," Wheat said. "And then the foot soldiers were calling their legislators and were all in a twist over gambling."

In 2001, the bill ultimately failed and the high stakes game that Abramoff started continues.

As the legislature convened in Austin this year, lobbying expert Wheat was surpised to see that the Chickasaw tribe of Oklahoma had three lobbyists at the capital.

"We didn't know who the Chickasaws were," he said.

State records show the Chickasaws, who own Winstar, are spending $120,000 to make sure their voice is heard.

"Not only were they the largest casino force across the border in Oklahoma, but they are currently undergoing a massive expansion of their casino operations up there," Wheat said. "To support that expansion, they continually need to drive busloads of people over the border from Texas."

The Chickasaws' chief lobbyist in Austin is Jim Shearer.

"They oppose gaming in Texas because it's a market share issue to them," Shearer said. "Winstar, as you know, draws heavily out of this market. And if gaming comes to Texas, there will undoubtedly be some in Dallas, and they oppose it from a business standpoint."

Federal election records showed the Chickasaws were among the top dozen political donors among Indian tribes. They gave more than $600,000 to pro-gambling candidates in the last four years in races in California, Washington, Minnesota, Michigan, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

"The politicians are getting a lot of payoffs," said Bill Thompson. "A lot of bribes [are] called campaign contributions and they may be legal as far as campaign contributions. But I'll tell you what, the Indian gaming regulatory act authorizes how Indians may spend gambling money, and they don't include political payoffs or political contributions."

Abramoff is headed to prison, but the trends he set in motion have their own momentum. Like money dropped in a slot machine, political donations may show up in who wins and loses, but the public never knows what's going on inside.
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