Paul Kusznirewicz (55) of Ontario, Canada is a bitterly disappointed and frankly angry gambler following a devastating disqualification of what he thought was a life-changing slots win. And he's not taking it lying down after he was offered a consolation prize of four dinner coupons by the Georgian Downs Casino in Innisfil, Ontario.
The Toronto Star reports that Kusznirewicz was playing the Buccaneer slot machine when the lights and bells starting ringing and the machine screen advised, "Jackpot! You have won $42.9 million!" Shocked as the implications of such a huge win dawned on him, the lucky gambler could only stare bemused at his wife.
"The lights and the sounds," he recalls. "It was saying on the machine 'Call attendant. You have won a jackpot of over $42 million. I couldn't believe it."
Amidst the bells and whistles, a casino employee arrived, at first offering congratulations on the win. More casino employees rushed over - two supervisors, security and several mechanics. They took pictures. A crowd began to gather.
Five minutes later Kusznirewicz's hopes and dreams were dashed when he was told: "We can't pay you that money because that machine is broken." Instead, the casino offered him four dinner buffet coupons, adding insult to injury.
The bitterly disappointed gambler took the matter up with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, but that organisation supported the casino, explaining to Kusznirewicz that the slot machine's maximum payout was only $9 025.
"It malfunctioned. It clearly malfunctioned," said OLG spokesperson Allison Sparkes. "Each machine has a posted sign that says malfunction voids all pays and plays."
Now Kusznirewicz has launched litigation against the OLG with his lawyer, Bryan McPhadden, taking issue with the OLG's position. "The maximum payout of the machine is not clearly stated on the machine as is the case with many other (slots in the casino), which bear stickers stating the maximum win. Accordingly, it is not clear that that amount cannot be won on this machine," he said.
Furthermore, McPhadden says that despite weeks of discussions with OLG's legal team, the corporation has never provided evidence that the machine Kusznirewicz was playing had malfunctioned.
Sparkes says a report compiled after the incident indicated that the machine never actually went into jackpot mode and that an error message flashed on screen.
"There was an error message," she said, adding that the OLG deals with public money and must protect the public's interests. "The machine did not go into jackpot mode and the patron was informed there was a malfunction in the machine."
To this, McPhadden says both Kusznirewicz and his wife know what they saw. Neither noticed any error message.
"All the normal lights, bells and the like associated with a win were shown on the machine and this is what attracted the OLG floor attendant to go to the machine," he said, adding that the gaming corporation took photos of the machine at the time. "OLG should release those photographs now if it is taking this position. Had OLG provided us with these long ago, as it has had ample opportunity to do, we may not have commenced the action or continued with it."