Katrina Bookman – The Woman Who Was Denied $43 Million By A Casino


The Story of Katrina Bookman

Everyone dreams of winning big at the casino. Whether it is playing slots or winning a game of poker, everyone wants to win a life-changing amount of money and sail into the sunset. However, what if you happen to win the jackpot at the slots, start packing your suitcases, and plan your new life, only for the casino to deny your winnings? Well, this is exactly what happened to Katrina Bookman and her 43 million jackpot “win” at the casino

You probably heard the story of Katrina Bookman and her nightmare scenario of winning a whopping jackpot of 43 million while playing at the slots, only for a certain New York casino to declare her win as a malfunction of the machine and refuse to pay her winnings. 

Back in 2017, the unlucky Katrina Bookman was spinning the reels on the slot game Spinx Wild, a machine located in the Resorts World Casino New York, when suddenly the slot machine displayed an onscreen text message saying “printing cash ticket – $42,949,672,76”, followed by “bells, noises, and lights”. Naturally, Katrina Bookman believed that she had just won the 43 million jackpot, but she couldn’t be further from the truth, as the casino declared her win void and a malfunction.

Stake Dinner Instead of a $43 Million Jackpot

Right after the initial shock of seemingly winning a 43 million jackpot, Katrina Bookman was taken to a backroom by staff members, where she was told to return the next day. The next day, Katrina Bookman returned to the Resorts World New York, asked how much she won, and got the answer: “You didn’t win anything”. It would be the understatement of the year to say that Katrina was utterly devastated by the response, and even more by the explanation for this decision given to her by the casino.

According to the official joint statement from the New York State Gaming Commission and the Resorts World, the message that Katrina Bookman saw wasn’t valid, but rather an error and malfunction of the slot machine. More specifically, the casino explained to Bookman that the maximum jackpot amount at the Spinx Wild slot for a 40 cents wager (the amount that Katrina Bookman wagered) should have been $6,500, thus automatically making the 43 million jackpot void.

This means that Bookman wasn’t the winner of the 43 million jackpot, and as such, wasn’t entitled to the payout. Instead of winning a life-changing jackpot, Katrina Bookman was offered a free-of-charge stake dinner, in addition to being offered $2.25 by the casino. This gesture of goodwill by the Resorts World was the only compensation that Bookman was offered, being that according to the casino, “malfunctions void all pays and plays”, making the unfortunate “winner” ineligible to claim her winnings.

Katrina Bookman’s Selfie

The Court Battle

Just several days after Katrina Bookman was denied the 43 million jackpot, she hired Alan Ripka, an attorney from New York, and filed a 17-page lawsuit against the software provider IGT, the Resorts World Casino, and Genting New York LLC. The 17-page lawsuit contained the selfie that Katrina took in front of the slot with the jackpot displayed on the screen, her personal account of the situation, as well as $42,949,672.76 in damages from the Resorts World Casino.

According to Ripka and his official statement to ABC 7, the casino is obliged to pay the amount, as “the machine takes your money when you lose. It ought to pay it back when you win.” Moreover, Ripka claimed that even if the casino wasn’t liable to pay the 43 million jackpot on the grounds of malfunction, he said that at the very least the Resorts World Casino should pay Katrina Bookman the initial jackpot of $6,500 appropriate to the 40 cents wager.

You can’t claim a machine is broken because you want it to be broken. Does that mean it wasn’t inspected? Does it mean it wasn’t maintained? And if so, does that mean people who played there before (Bookman) had zero chance of winning?

Alan Ripka – Attorney

In the end, the Queens County Supreme Court, or more specifically, a judge from the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the defendants, acknowledging that the 43 million jackpot was a result of malfunction, and as such, the claims of the lawsuit were not valid. The sad part is that Katrina Bookman ended up with empty hands, being that she neither got the 43 million jackpot, nor the $6,500 jackpot that she was entitled to claim.

Can A Casino Refuse To Pay You?

The short answer is yes, a casino can refuse to pay you under certain circumstances. This is because slot machines, much like laptops and smartphones, are computers, and as such, are susceptible to malfunctions and errors. Moreover, all online gambling operators, whether online or land-based, reserve the right to refuse to pay out any winnings if they are a result of fraud, system error, or other technical issues.

There are several cases similar to the one of Katrina Bookman that show that winning a jackpot is not always a guarantee that you are now a millionaire. 

One such example is a woman by the name of Pauline McKee, a 90-year-old gambling enthusiast who similar to Katrina Bookman, got a message on the slot screen that she had just won $41 million. Only there was a kicker. Just like Bookman, Mckee took the case to court, where a judge again ruled in favour of the defendants, stating that the $41 million jackpot was a result of an error, explaining that penny slots don’t release multi-million-dollar winnings.

Maribel Sanchez is another example of a big win going horribly wrong. More specifically, Marible Sanchez was casually playing the Liberty 7s slot machine when she hit the jackpot and got a message on the screen that she had just won $8.4 million. You probably already know where this story goes, as Mrs. Sanchez was denied the $8.4 million in winnings by the casino who stated that the amount was a result of an error in the slot machine, and as such,  all winnings were declared void.

The Sphinx Wild Slot

Final Thoughts & How To Protect Yourself

The case of Katrina Bookman, and all other similar instances when a player won a jackpot only to be deemed ineligible, shouldn’t deter you from playing at casinos and enjoying yourself. Quite the contrary. While it is true that it can be deterring and demotivating to hear stories about people who won millions and weren’t allowed to take the money, you should know that it is not always as it seems.

This is why it is imperative to have at least basic knowledge about the gambling activity that you partake in. Whether it is learning the mechanics of a slot machine, tailoring the right slot strategy, or simply learning your rights as a casino player, you should always make sure to do your part. In 99% of all casino winnings the house usually pays the amount in full, which is quite logical when you think about it, being that not paying out winnings would mean the end of casino gambling in general.

Errors and malfunctions do happen, and there is nothing you can do if you are a victim of such unfortunate events. However, what you can do is prepare for every scenario, learn everything there is about the game that you are about to play, and always keep a cool head regardless of the outcome. 

Technically, Katrina Bookman did win. However, the win was declared void due to a slot malfunction.

Being that the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the casino, Katrina Bookman didn’t get paid.

Nothing! The casino won the lawsuit and as a result, refused to pay out the winnings to Katrina.

After losing the lawsuit, Katrina Bookman is still trying to bring light to the case and get justice for the casino not paying out at least the original $6,500 jackpot.

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