Gaming board to investigate disputed $2.8 million jackpot

RENO, Nev. (AP) - In her first bet of the day, a Sacramento woman slipped a $5 bill into a slot machine at the Eldorado Resort Casino early Wednesday morning, pressed the maximum bet button and won the $2.8 million jackpot - or so she thought.

After the winning lights flashed and the excitement subsided, a technician told Francesca Galea the machine had malfunctioned and she had not won the jackpot.

''They're claiming a piece of paper got stuck in there and it tilted,'' the 29-year-old marketing agent told a Reno newspaper. ''But I know what I saw.

''They were perfect across the pay line and then the machine started going crazy, going around and around and wouldn't stop.''

International Game Technology owns the $1 Wheel of Fortune slot game and its progressive jackpot that pools money played from hundreds of machines in Nevada casinos, including the Eldorado.

Eldorado executives said IGT is responsible for the machine and payout.

IGT spokesman Rick Sorensen said malfunctions are rare but can be triggered by a number of things including tampering with the machine or an electronic mishap.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board is investigating the dispute, trying to determine what caused the tilt and if the play was completed before the malfunction.

A decision will be issued within 30 days, according to Ed Yenick, the board's deputy chief of investigations.

''We're looking to see the cause of the tilt and if the game was completed before the tilt,'' Yenick said. ''If the patron aligned the jackpot, we're going to make sure they get the jackpot.''

Either side could appeal the board's decision, but Sorensen said IGT has no intentions of fighting the outcome.

''It looks to be a machine tilt, which could void the play and the pay,'' Sorensen said. ''But if it turns out to be our responsibility, we'll pay. We don't want to deprive a player of a legitimate jackpot.''

Galea, who came to Reno to gamble for only a few hours Tuesday night, said casino officials told her there was no video surveillance tape of the incident. Her friend, Sara Aydelotte, was the only witness to how the Wheel of Fortune symbols lined up on the pay line.


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