Gambler denied $58M jackpot over slot machine ‘software error’

Jordan Chittley
Daily Buzz

When the fruit stops spinning after you pull a slot machine lever and the lights start flashing and bells start ringing, most people would assume they've won.

That is exactly what happened to Behar Merlaku when he was playing at an Austrian casino, but instead of walking out of the casino with $58 million (43 million euros), he was offered $100 and a free meal.

Merlaku, a Swiss national, was playing when he saw four out of five matches appear earlier this year. Even though the machine told him he won, the casino bosses said the jackpot was due to a "software error."

"When I won I was ecstatic and of course I relied upon it being a real jackpot which it was. I saw it on the screen," he said to Austrian newspaper Heute according to the Austrian Times. "But then the disappointment came when two casino workers came to me and said there was a software error. They took me for a fool which I am not. I've played in many casinos and I know the way the cookie crumbles. It doesn't concern me if they have a software problem."

Now Merlaku is about to launch a lawsuit against the casino and go after his winnings. According to the Daily Mail, Merlaku's lawyers say he is entitled to the money because that is what the machine said.

When the casino offered him the small amount of money and food as compensation he rejected the offer and was banned from the casino. He said that since the incident he hasn't be able to sleep and constantly thinks about the injustice.

The same thing happened to an Ontario gambler in 2009. Paul Kusznirewicz thought we had won $42.9 million after the winning lights and sounds went off at a slot machine at Georgian Downs just north of Toronto. An OLG floor attendant initially told Kusznirewicz to go to the winners circle, but other employees soon after told him he wouldn't receive any money because of a "machine malfunction."

Similarly, they offered him a free dinner at the buffet. Kusznirewicz also claimed to suffer from anxiety, depression and insomnia from the incident. He hired a lawyer and sued the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.

As for Merlaku, he will do what it takes to get his money.

"I will fight for this until my death," he said in an Austrian Times article. "It is outrageous what they have done to me and my family. I want to spread what happened to me all over Europe. I don't accept it."

According to Austrian law, jackpots can't normally be higher than two million euros.

Merlaku will launch the lawsuit next month, which is sure to be watched by gaming operators around the world.

(Reuters photo)