Woman Wins, Loses $42M In Slot Machine Malfunction

Gaming Official: Listed Slot Machine Jackpot Didn't Go That High

Imagine spending an hour at a slot machine and all of a sudden bells and whistles go off indicating you've won.

It happened to Louise Chavez last Friday at the Fortune Valley casino in Central City.

When she looked at the jackpot total, she couldn’t believe her eyes. The machine indicated that she'd won $42 million.

Chavez was elated.

"There was a lady sitting next to me and she said, 'Oh my God, $42 million.' I started jumping up and down," Chavez told 7NEWS.

But the Adams County resident’s elation didn't last long.

A few minutes later, casino officials told her the machine had malfunctioned and she didn't win anything.

“I was shocked,” Chavez said.

State gaming officials confirm the casino’s initial assessment.

"Everyone who sits in front of a slot machine is well aware of what the top prize is," said Don Burmania, communications director at the state Gaming Division. "In this case the top prize was $215,000. So it wasn't in the realm of possibility for anyone to expect to win $42.9 million on that machine."

Chavez disagrees.

“If that’s what I won on the machine, I feel that’s what I should get,” she said.

Her brother, who asked that we not use his name, told 7NEWS that investigators need to get to the bottom of the dispute.

“If it was a legitimate malfunction, the company should be able to prove it and not just claim it was a malfunction to avoid having to pay the jackpot amount,” he said.

Burmania said the slot machine is being sent to a private lab where experts will conduct a forensic analysis.

When asked how a slot machine could malfunction, Burmania said, “A slot machine is essentially a stand-alone computer, and no computer is error-free.”

Burmania added that this isn’t the first time there’s been a malfunction with a slot machine.

“There was a woman who thought that she’d won a $164 million jackpot at the Canyon Casino in Black Hawk in August of 2008,” he said.

When asked how long it will take to get lab results back, Burmania said, “The Black Hawk case took four months.”

He doesn’t expect this one will take as long.

A spokesman for Fortune Valley declined an on-camera interview, but told 7NEWS that the pay-off amount in question is under review.

Joe Behm said that pay-off amount does not exist on that machine or in Colorado.

Behm said once the state finishes its investigation, the casino will follow the gaming division’s instructions.

The casino gave Chavez the $23 she spent on slots that day, a free night's lodging and a free buffet.

Chavez said she’ll never step foot in Fortune Valley again.

“They offered to comp my room and meals,” she said. “I’ll never go back.”