This story was published more than 3 years ago.
A player at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino relived the moment where he was screwed out of a $100,000 slot jackpot thanks to a woman who pushed the button that started the reels rolling.
Jan Flato was playing the Double Top Dollar slot alongside his then friend Marina Medvedeva Navarro when the incident occurred. He fed the money into the machine but had Navarro push the spin button, as he wanted some "good luck". Navarro complied, and the machine hit for the huge progressive prize. The lights and sounds of the machine went off, and Flato thought he hit it big.
Unfortunately, the law in Florida states that the winner of the prize is the person who actually presses the spin button. This meant that Navarro is legally the winner, and she wasted no time cutting Flato out. She walked away with a $50,000 check as well as $50,000 in bills, and instructed the casino's security to keep Flato away from her.
Ms. Navarro has a contradictory story, claiming that she had put money in the machine and offered Flato a portion of the winnings, but he declined. Video evidence cannot be released by the casino due to privacy rules put out by the Seminole Indian tribe.
Speaking to the Miami Herald newspaper Flato said, "I want everybody to know what happened so it won't happen to them. I've played slots all over the country and never had a problem like that. Even the people handing out the money said, 'This isn't right.'"
Most people agree with Flato's sentiment, but the player says that every lawyer he speaks to says the issue is cut and dry: the person that presses the button has the legal right to the winnings.
It's a lesson that Mr. Flato is sure to never forget.