Pauline McKee Vs Isle Casino Hotel - Betting’s Biggest Court Cases

Pauline McKee Vs Isle Casino Hotel - Betting’s Biggest Court Cases

Published Date · May 16, 2024 ·Read Time · 4 mins

There are few better feelings than landing a big win at the casino, but how exactly would you react if you had won $41.8 million? Winning such a huge sum of money would be life-changing for just about anyone, and most people have daydreamed about such a scenario while playing online slots. In 2011, a 90-year-old grandmother believed she had hit such a jackpot, although the casino refused to pay out and claimed it was just a glitch.

Who is Pauline McKee?

Pauline McKee was visiting family in Waterloo, Iowa, when she tried her luck at the Isle Casino. At the time, the 90-year-old grandmother was a retiree, living on social security in Antioch, California. The 90-year-old grandmother was living in Antioch, California, at the time. Naturally, hitting a huge jackpot would have made a big difference in her life, as well as the lives of her family.

The Isle Casino Hotel is part of the Caesars Entertainment brand and offers over 800 gaming machines and tables, with lots of exciting slots and games like blackjack and roulette. It’s a popular destination for holidaymakers visiting the state of Iowa and has options for everyone to enjoy.

Aside from offering casino gaming, the Isle Casino Hotel has a resort-style indoor pool and three dining options offering plenty of exciting and mouth-water dishes. There’s a sportsbook, too, so sports fans can place real money bets on a variety of games.

Pauline McKee was particularly fond of the slot machines at Isle Casino, playing various machines for low stakes during her time at the casino. The penny slot machines are a big attraction because the risks are lower, but they still sometimes offer big potential jackpots.

The Jackpot Glitch

While playing a slot machine called Miss Kitty, Pauline McKee was happy to see a $1.85 payout after a single spin. However, this happiness turned to sheer delight as a message popped on the screen saying she’d won a bonus. Rather than a few dollars or even a few hundred dollars, the machine incredibly displayed the message: “$41,797,555 bonus award”.

When a person sees such a message on a casino game machine, they’re probably going to jump up and shout. However, McKee’s reaction was far more understated. She reported that her first thoughts were “nice, very nice”. Although she was understandably pleased about the win, she didn’t get carried away, fearing it could be a mistake.

Unfortunately for McKee, she was correct in her assumption. The casino refused to pay the bonus amount, claiming the machine had a maximum allowed payout of just $10,000. While they did credit her with the $1.85 plus the remaining balance from the coins she’d added to the machine, they stated that the payout was the result of a software glitch.

The Isle Casino Hotel did at least cover McKee’s hotel room for the night, but it was still a disappointing result for the grandmother, who had already been planning what she would spend the money on.

The Court Case

Understandably, Ms McKee was upset with the casino’s decision not to honour the bonus payment. The slot machine was removed from the casino and examined under a state investigation. Unfortunately for McKee and her family, the state investigation agreed with the casino’s assessment that a software malfunction had caused the machine to award a bonus payout incorrectly.

When a casino game malfunctions, it voids payment, as pointed out by the terms of any casino game you play. However, McKee wasn’t satisfied by this and took the casino to court. She and her family believed they were owed the amount indicated by the game, which was described as a gratuitous promise. Their legal team argued that the casino had an obligation to pay the full sum, and the case was eventually heard by the Iowa Supreme Court.

McKee sued the casino for breach of contract and consumer fraud. In court, Justice Edward Mansfield listened to arguments from both sides. The casino’s attorneys pointed out that such a large payout would completely bankrupt the business, and all rules were followed. In the end, the Judge agreed and ruled in favour of the Isle Casino.


The Supreme Court upheld the original ruling of the district court and the investigation of the state gaming commission. It found that the casino had clearly shown signs to advise that “malfunction voids all pays and plays”. As such, the rules of the game meant that there was a contract between the casino and players and that the player wasn’t entitled to the bonus payment under those rules.

The court also found that at no point did the casino advertise this potential bonus payout or promise to Ms McKee that she was entitled to the payment of $41 million. As a result, the Judge was clear that no consumer fraud was committed and there was no breach of contract. While Pauline McKee was disappointed by the result, she didn’t let it get to her.

After the ruling was made, McKee said, “I had my doubts from the start, because that’s a lot of money for a penny machine. I was hoping to help my children out financially, but it wasn’t meant to be.”

As a result of the case, the slot machine manufacturer, Aristocrat Gaming, sent out a notice to all casinos with its games to warn them of the glitch and advise them to turn the feature off. It’s not known whether Pauline McKee played penny slots again, but hopefully, she had better luck if she did.



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