The city of Pendleton, Oregon has a true downhome atmosphere, where the most prominent economic generators are products fashioned from wool. On the eastern edge of town, located just off Interstate 84, is an establishment that stands out among the area’s dominant classic architecture. It’s called the Wildhorse Casino, and it’s become even more famous with the locals after one Pendleton man collected a massive $674,096 jackpot playing the Wizard of Oz slot.
Matt Doherty’s wildest dreams came true two weeks ago when he decided to spend a lazy Tuesday afternoon at the Wildhorse Casino. The local man was spinning the reels of the Wizard of Oz slot machine when, to his amazement, his journey along the yellow brick road turned out to be paved in gold.
The lucky local declined to comment on his massive jackpot win, but was quick to broaden a smile for the casino’s cameras whilst standing in front of the Wizard of Oz slot machine at that treated him so well.
And smile he should. Very few have been so fortuitous while partaking in the resort casino’s 1,200+ slot machines over the last two decades.
Operated by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Wildhorse Casino first opened its doors in November of 1994. At that time, patrons were welcomed into temporary buildings while the main structure was still being erected. But in the last 21 years, the expansive collection of progressive slots, which have grown exponentially in that time, have only struck their jackpots on a lowly 17 occasions.
The last time Wildhorse Casino paid a progressive jackpot win was almost 5 years ago exactly. It occurred on March 10, 2010, when a man from the La Grande area struck it rich for $2.9 million. Unfortunately, as Doherty soon discovered after his $674k Wizard of Oz slot win, getting from point A—winning the money—to point B—collecting the cash—isn’t nearly so easy as spinning the reels.
When it comes to progressive jackpots, it is not the Wildhorse Casino that pays out the winnings. Because these gambling devices are often networked across casinos throughout the country—as is Wizard of Oz slot—the manufacturer who developed the game is responsible for all progressive payouts. Thus the first step in cutting a check is to contact the slot machine maker.
At that point, the company will send out a representative to confirm the win. That process can take up to 24 hours, but according to David Rohn, the Director of Slot Operations at Wildhorse Casino, it took about 6 hours to approve Mr. Doherty’s Wizard of Oz slot win. However, that’s just a small segment of the overall payout process.
Once the jackpot was confirmed, Mr. Doherty received only 5% of his winnings as take-home cash. That amounts to about $33,704.80. The remainder of the winnings are put on hold for a brief period of time, after which the player will receive a letter informing them of the option to receive the entire amount (minus taxes, of course) in equal, long-term annual payments, or accept a smaller portion of the prize in an immediate lump sum.
For players who don’t read the fine print, the payment process for a jackpot win at Wildhorse Casino might seem rather disappointing. But then again, it’s hard to be disappointed when, one way or another, a life altering amount of money is headed your way.