Money Matters - Simplified

Man denied $57mn casino jackpot, offered free meal instead

The casino has refused to take responsibility for the error and blamed the machine manufacturer for the malfunction.

Imagine winning mega millions at a casino only to be told it was an erroneous jackpot!

For a very short time, Swiss gambler Behar Merlaku thought he was a very lucky man. Merlaku was pushing buttons on a slot machine in Bregenz, Austria, back in March when it suddenly alerted him to the payout of $57million.

Though he got only four of five required matches, the 26-year-old was ecstatic when the slot machine started ringing and flashing its winning lights telling him he had won the massive jackpot.

But the elation was short-lived. The casino operators refused to pay up, claiming it was misleading display due to a software glitch, and offer him about $90 and a free meal instead.

Feeling cheated, Merlaku rejected the compensation, and was reportedly banned from the casino.

He said, “The jackpot came up loud and clear. There was music and the sum I had won, nearly 43 million euros, was displayed on screen. I was so overjoyed and in my head I began calculating what I could do with all this money.”

"I will fight for this until my death. It is outrageous what they have done to me and my family. I want to spread what happened to me all over Europe. I don’t accept it." --Behar Merlaku

Launched lawsuit
Having been denied the prize money, embittered Merlaku, who has mobile phone footage of the winning moment, has launched a lawsuit against the casino.

The casino has refused to take responsibility for the error and blamed the machine manufacturer for the malfunction.

Their legal representatives have also referred to an Austrian law that says gamblers cannot win higher than $2.5 million.

In addition, the casino claims a worker had accidentally tampered with the jackpot.

Merlaku’s legal team told Daily Mail, "The slot machine that produced the winning display was immediately accessed by Casinos Austria.

"There was no contemporaneous independent assessment of the claimed error, and no opportunity has since been afforded by the company for the machine software to be analysed, other than by Atronic, a supplier to it of jackpot controllers.”

Psychological problems
Meanwhile the jackpot incident has left Merlaku with psychological problems. He says he cannot sleep, and constantly keeps thinking about the great injustice that has been meted out to him.

"I will fight for this until my death. It is outrageous what they have done to me and my family. I want to spread what happened to me all over Europe. I don’t accept it," said Merlaku.