Las Vegas Sun

October 15, 2019

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LV slot player loses legal battle

CARSON CITY -- The Nevada Supreme Court ruled Monday against Las Vegas butcher Joe Pepitone's claim that he was entitled to a $463,895 slot jackpot at Arizona Charlie's hotel-casino.

The high court said there were some "negative inferences" due to the way the jackpot dispute was handled, but nothing to warrant a reversal of an earlier order denying Pepitone the money.

Pepitone says four symbols lined up on a "Nevada Nickels" slot machine, part of a slot system operated by International Game Technology, that he was playing in October 1997.

But the malfunction was caused by an extra coin being jammed into the machine's slot, blocking a computer reader from working properly, according to documents filed with the Gaming Control Board.

When that happens, the spinning reels reverse, and the rotation continues until the machine is manually reset, the document states.

The Control Board ruled against Pepitone's claim a little more than a month after the incident. An appeal to a hearing officer and a District Court judge failed to reverse the verdict, and Pepitone then appealed to the Supreme Court.

Justices noted that a slot foreman at the casino accidentally reset the machine before IGT and Control Board staffers could personally inspect it, and the device was removed and destroyed shortly after the incident.

"While the board could certainly have given that evidence more weight than it did and could have drawn certain negative inferences as a result, the board was within its statutory discretion in relying on the other evidence admitted at the hearing," the Supreme Court said.

The other evidence included computer records that showed a machine tilt and no winning jackpot, justices noted.

After the slot foreman reset the device, justices said the slot reels began spinning again and finally displayed what the machine's microprocessor had previously generated: two single bars, a red seven and a blank -- and not the four "Nevada Nickels" symbols that Pepitone saw at first.