Betting's Biggest Court Cases - Katrina Bookman v Resorts World Casino

Betting's Biggest Court Cases - Katrina Bookman v Resorts World Casino

Facts Checked
Published Date · Feb. 26, 2024 ·Read Time · 4 mins

Katrina Bookman made international headlines in 2017 after she won a $42.9 million jackpot while playing on a slot machine at Resorts World Casino in New York.

resorts world new york

However, the casino refused to pay out the winnings and offered her a steak dinner and $2.25 instead. The case was quickly taken to court and went on to become known as one of the most disappointing wins ever.

How did nearly $50 million turn into bus fare? Let’s dive in and see what exactly happened.

Who is Katrina Bookman?

Katrina Bookman was a single mother to four kids and has certainly had a tougher time than many. She was raised in foster care and spent most of her teenage life struggling with homelessness, so she would know better than most just how much a life-changing sum of $42.9 million would be.

In fact, after believing that she had won the jackpot amount, Ms Bookman said that she had mentally put aside $1 million to help her son open up a barber shop for himself.

This was, of course, after taking the infamous ‘$42 million selfie’ photo in front of the machine which had the “Printing Cash Ticket: $42,949,672.76” message displayed clearly on the screen.

katrina bookman selfie

What is Resorts World Casino?

Resorts World is an international franchise owned by Genting Group, with properties spanning across Asia, Europe and America - there’s even a Resorts World Cruises route.

The casino in question was Resorts World New York City, which was opened in 2011 alongside the pre-existing Aqueduct Racetrack. It’s located in Queens, Long Island.

The Katrina Bookman case isn’t the only time that this casino has been in hot water with the courts.

In 2017, Bhojpattie Ramrattan took Resorts World New York to court on behalf of Seeraj Ramrattan after he allegedly slipped and fell on the property, which resulted in him injuring himself.

A few years earlier, the casino also laid off 177 employees without notice, which resulted in a class action against the operators.

What Happened to Katrina Bookman at Resorts World Casino?

Let’s have a look at a timeline of exactly what happened to Bookman:

  • Bookman was playing the Sphinx Wild slot machine at Resorts World New York

sphinx wild logo

  • After her initial bet of $0.40, the machine alerted her that she’d won $42,949,672.76
  • She took a selfie with the winning amount and is asked by staff to return the next day to collect the winnings after an official review had taken place
  • The next day, Resorts World New York staff told her that she wouldn’t win anything because the machine malfunctioned - which was later verified by the New York State Gaming Commission
  • Instead, she was offered a complimentary steak dinner and $2.25

What Happened in Court?


Only days after the initial incident, Bookman hired an attorney, Adam Ripka. He compiled a 17-page case against Resorts World New York, Genting Group, and the software provider of Sphinx Wild, IGT. In case you were wondering, the dossier did include the ‘$42 million selfie’ too.

The jackpot itself was at the centre of the dispute. While Ms Bookman stated that the Sphinx Wild slot machine alerted her to the win with “bells, noises and lights” as well as the jackpot amount on the screen, the defence team argued that this didn’t matter.

The gambling laws in New York stipulate that “malfunctions void all pays and plays”, which is certainly a problem if they could prove that the slot machine malfunctioned. Which, according to the New York State Gaming Commission, it had.

As Bookman’s wager was $0.40 and Sphinx Wild has a fixed jackpot, this meant that the maximum win she should’ve received was $6,500. Her attorney, Ripka, argued that if this is true, then Bookman should then be entitled to this amount as she had triggered a jackpot win.

He commented that if “the machine takes your money when you lose. It ought to pay it when you win”.

However, the casino refused to accept this claim and offered only an apology in its place.

Impact of The Court Case

As of 2024, there have been no legal updates to the case. We have no way of knowing what exactly happened to Bookman or her initial $42.9 million jackpot win, nor whether she returned for her complimentary steak dinner.

katrina bookman tv

However, if we look at similar stories of operators denying winnings due to a malfunction, it seems that courts will often favour the casinos. This is because, as in the case of Bookman, the machines will have conditions that mean the operator doesn’t have to pay out due to a system error.

This has happened to several other people in the past, including Veronica Castillo; who was playing at the Lucky Eagle Casino in Seattle when the machine alerted her that she had won $8.5 million. Similar to this case, it went to court, but she was told that the machine had malfunctioned.

Not all malfunctions are devastating though. In the case of Robert Taylor, he was playing on a slot machine at Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, but the machine never informed him or the casino that he won.

After an exhaustive search by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, which involved trawling CCTV, interviewing witnesses and analysing data from a taxi company, they finally managed to track him down and award him his $230,000 winnings.

Where Are They Now?

Despite the story making international headlines for several years, all of the parties involved have been very quiet ever since.

Bookman has made no more comments, but her lawyer did file a lawsuit one year later to counter the casino’s reasonings for not handing over the winnings.

According to Adam Ripka, no-one has made any efforts to actually explain what happened regarding the malfunction.

As for Resorts World New York, the property is still in the race for the limited coveted casino permits. As there are only three on offer, the operators are essentially bidding for them at this point.


Lucy Wynne

Content Writer


Nosa Omoigui

Content Editor