Elderly New Jersey Woman Battles Casino for Denied Million-Dollar Slot Win

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In the city of Atlantic, inside the glimmering confines of Bally’s Casino, 72-year-old New Jersey woman Roney Beal thought she had the moment of a lifetime. She was engrossed in the thrill of a progressive slot machine, the iconic Bally’s Wheel of Fortune slot, when she seemingly hit the jackpot, an eye-popping grand prize of $1.2 million.

“The machine declared, ‘You’re a winner,’ and a shower of gold coins erupted,” she recounted to 6 ABC Philadelphia. “There was this really nice guy who said, ‘Oh my God, you hit, you hit!’ He told me, ‘Lady, you’re a millionaire.’ I could hardly believe my ears.”

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However, her joyous jaunt turned into a jarring journey when she informed the slot supervisors and was coldly told that the machine had malfunctioned. In a world where the house always has an edge, most slot machines come with a small yet crucial caveat: “Malfunction voids all pays and plays.”

Undeterred, Beal is now girding her loins for a legal showdown against Bally’s to claim the million-dollar prize she ardently believes is rightfully hers. However, Bally’s maintains its stance, citing a “reel tilt” error on the machine. Casino staff explained the error code had effectively voided Beal’s millionaire status.

“’Lady, get it in your head; you won nothing,’” Beal quoted one casino official. In a perfunctory gesture of goodwill, she was offered a paltry $350.

Beal’s legal counsel, the seasoned attorney Mike Di Croce, postulates the casino staff “tampered with the machine” before an independent party could inspect it. He plans to elevate the stakes by filing a lawsuit not only for the jackpot’s full sum but also an additional million for the emotional turmoil inflicted on Beal.

Crucially, the battle lines are not limited to Beal and Bally’s. The casino’s spokesperson made it clear that it only houses the machines, while the payouts are the responsibility of the tech supplier, IGT, making this less of an isolated incident and more of a systemic issue.

Interestingly, this isn’t even the first incident of such nature. In 2016, Katrina Bookman, a single mother from Queens, New York, hit a staggering $43 million jackpot playing an IGT slot machine–only to be told it was a system glitch. Instead, she was handed a meager $2.25 and a free steak.

But sometimes the player comes out on top. In 2000, Garrett Griggs and Stephen Livaudais locked horns with IGT and Harrah’s New Orleans over a contentious $1.35 million jackpot on another Wheel of Fortune machine. The case stretched over six years, but the ruling ultimately fell in favor of the players, thanks to IGT’s failure to conclusively establish that a system glitch had occurred.

So, would the underdog, once again, succeed against the casino giant? Or would the house live up to the age-old adage that it always wins? As Beal’s prepares for her legal rollercoaster, we watch, wait and write.

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.