December 12,2011 : Player fobbed off with a free meal and Euro 70
Casinos Austria is facing a legal challenge after disqualifying a player's Euro 43 million slot win at a casino in Bregenz, Austria in March and attempting to fob the player off with a Euro 70 payment and the offer of a free meal.
Behar Merlaku (26) thought his ship had come in when the slot machine he was playing burst into life with bells ringing and a Euro 43 million sign flashing, but his elation was short-lived when casino management turned down his win as a software malfunction.
Merlaku took the precaution of photographing the screen with his cell-phone, but that might work against him – it shows four aligned symbols instead of the five required for a jackpot win.
The disgruntled player has taken legal advice, with his lawyers claiming that he is entitled to the win because the machine awarded it; it is likely that negotiations will ensue on a more appropriate "consolation" prize for Merlaku.
Meanwhile, Merlaku is ramping up the publicity, with a press conference on the litigation scheduled for this week. His lawyers will claim:
"The slot machine that produced the winning display was immediately accessed by Casinos Austria.
"There was no contemporaneous independent assessment of the claimed error, and no opportunity has since been afforded by the company for the machine software to be analysed, other than by Atronic, a supplier to it of jackpot controllers.
"The regulator, the Austrian Ministry of Finance, has shown no interest in pursuing an orderly investigation as would be the case in well regulated gaming jurisdictions such as the UK, Switzerland, Singapore, the USA, Australia and Macau."
According to reports in the Daily Mail this weekend, Casinos Austria has passed the buck to its machine provider, Atronic. Corporate spokesmen have also pointed out that in Austrian law jackpots cannot normally be higher than Euro 2 million.
Unless there is a settlement, the warring parties will go to court on January 10 next year in a case that will be closely followed by European gambling groups.