The Vancouver Sun received an anonymous tip recently that one of the British Columbia Lottery Corporation’s (BCLC) slot machines had mistakenly awarded a prize of $100,000. The slot in question was originally designed to build a progressive jackpot that could not exceed $1,000. When questioned about the near year-old occurrence, the BCLC confirmed the story, saying the slot machine maker, Konami, was at fault, but that the erroneous payout was honored.
The incident occurred on January 20, 2014, when an anonymous woman entered the Lake City Casino at Penticton Lakeside Resort and made her way to the ‘Dragon Fever’ slot machine. Dragon Fever carries a progressive jackpot that is linked to six other slot machines of similar make. Each time the reels are spun, the progressive jackpot increases, and is supposed to max out at $1,000. When the lucky woman spun the reels, they landed in the ultimate position required to release that jackpot. But somehow, instead of displaying the appropriate jackpot prize, the machine displayed “$99,999.97”.
One could safely assume that the proper jackpot prize should have read “$999.97”, but upon investigation, such assumptions could not be confirmed by the BCLC. As such, they did the honorable thing, awarding the erroneously displayed prize, amounting to 10x more than theoretically possible, to the player.
“In this particular case,” said Laura Piva-Babcock, spokeswoman for the BC Lottery Corp, “BCLC could verify that a jackpot had occurred, but we were unable to confirm that the amount was anything other than what had been displayed on the screen. We couldn’t confirm what the jackpot amount was supposed to be. Therefore, accordingly, we determined the appropriate course of action was to pay that erroneously displayed prize amount to the player.”
Piva-Babcock revealed that, after “some initial troubleshooting of that defective machine”, the BCLC was not able to “definitively determine the exact reason for the malfunction.” Three days into the investigation, she said they reached a “settlement agreement with the player”, agreeing to pay out the full amount displayed on the slot machine. The losses will be recouped from Konami, the slot machine maker responsible for developing the game.
Following the lucrative mistake, the BCLC launched a full-scale investigation into its slot machines across the province. After pulling a multitude of machines, they discovered a total of 152 slots were programmed with the same potential malfunction. As of February 20, exactly one month later, all of the faulty machines had been fixed.
“Often times with these kinds of incidents there‘s a series of things that need to occur in order for that fault or malfunction to occur,” explained the spokeswoman. “If those series of things occurred … then this fault could happen.”
As for the apparent cover-up of the incident, the BCLC said that it was merely a technical error that had not been duplicated on any other slot machines up to that point. As such, they chose to deal with the matter privately rather than making it public.
David Eby, MLA of the BC New Democratic Party, criticized the Lottery Corporation for concealing the slot machine malfunction. “The key for BCLC is to maintain the confidence of the public that they’re being an effective watchdog and monitor of casinos,” said Eby. “Being secretive about defects and machines does not convey to me a feeling of confidence that BCLC has things under control. It suggests to me maybe there’s a problem they don’t want to own up to.”