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Thread: MGM National Harbor screws jackpot winner after their own clerical error causes state to confiscate her jackpot

  1. #1
    This is one of these stories that you can't believe is true, until you read the details and you realize it actually is.

    A woman from DC won a jackpot at MGM National Harbor "in the thousands", but shortly thereafter, she got the bad news: The casino would not be paying her.

    Why?

    Maryland law requires all jackpot winners' social security numbers to be entered into a state system prior to payout. If that person owes back child support, the state automatically confiscates the money.

    Cynthia Obie, who is 57 years old according to my records, does not have any under-18 children, and does not owe back child support. When she explained this to MGM employees, they reviewed the information they entered, and realized they mis-entered her social security number by one digit!

    The person owning that mis-entered SSN owed a ton of back child support, and the state computers automatically confiscated the jackpot.

    There is apparently no way to undo this, aside from a long, cumbersome process involving Maryland Gaming.

    Should the casino simply make the woman whole, even if it would afford her the opportunity to double-collect by going to the state for a refund?

    Definitely, especially since it appears the jackpot is likely under $10,000.

    Is MGM National Harbor willing to do this?

    No, they are not. Instead, they are hiding behind a misleading 'the law says we can't' explanation:

    Originally Posted by MGM National Harbor
    We are aware of this unfortunate error and have taken the necessary steps to assist Ms. Obie in rectifying this issue. Due to MLGCA rules and Maryland State Law, we cannot provide an additional payout for this jackpot, however, if she presents the proper identification credentials to the Maryland Gaming Commission, they will provide her with the appropriate payout. We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused Ms. Obie.
    While I concede I am no expert on Maryland Gaming law, I have to call BS on MGM's excuse.

    Note the very careful wording of MGM's statement. They said, "Due to MLGCA (Gaming) rules and Maryland State Law, we cannot provide an additional payout for this jackpot."

    The key phrase is, "... additional payout for this jackpot."

    And they are correct about that. Each jackpot must be paid correctly to the penny -- not one bit more, not one bit less.

    Hpwever, nothing is preventing MGM from giving Ms. Obie an equivalent payment and calling it something other than a jackpot win.

    They just can't call it a "jackpot payment". They can, for example, give her the same amount of money and call it restitution for emotional distress (which she really did have, as you might imagine!) Or they can simply give her the equivalent amount in freeplay, plus a bit more for her trouble.

    Why aren't they?

    Because they're being cheap, and because they are probably bothered that she could still request the refund from the state (through Maryland Gaming), so they feel the onus is on her. They're basically doing the absolute minimum required by Gaming -- telling her to file an application of refund to the state, and washing their hands of it.

    Hiding behind statements such as "the law says we can't help you in this situation" is very common for large companies to attempt to pull, because laws can be interpreted many ways, and the average person is afraid to challenge it.

    Here's a good example:

    When I lived in Las Vegas, there was a $25 installation fee for home phone service. I agreed to this and paid the $25, but they royally screwed up the installation, and I had to stay home an entire second day for them to come back and fix it.

    I called up demanding the $25 back, stating that they didn't perform the installation correctly on the first day, and thus the service I paid for (correct installation in one visit) was not provided.

    They argued with me, and eventually tried the excuse that it was a "regulated charge" and "illegal to remove".

    Technically, yes. They couldn't remove a regulated charge, which must be charged uniformly to each customer to the exact penny. However, there was no law against giving me a $25 customer service credit to offset it! They just couldn't remove the charge itself from the bill. I pointed this out, and after some weak arguing back, they finally conceded that I was correct. They gave me the $25 credit.

    Back to Ms. Obie's case:

    MGM National Harbor can correctly state that they cannot pay out the jackpot twice by law, while hiding the fact that they can give her the equivalent payment in a different way!

    Shameful.

    Did she get anything?

    Yes, she got a whopping $200 in freeplay. This actually proves my point that they ARE allowed to compensate her in another way. They just cheaped out and gave her a laughable 200 bucks -- in freeplay, no less!

    You might wonder why she doesn't simply go file the form with the state and get the money. Apparently this is a very long, time consuming, and difficult thing to do, and is bogged down heavily in bureaucracy. She has been attempting to do so, but claims she's repeatedly running into everyone passing the buck. Gaming has now directed her to the agency which handles child support, but it's not clear that they have the capacity to easily give refunds, either.

    Anyone who's tried to deal with the government regarding an unusual/non-standard situation knows this is true. It can be beyond maddening.

    MGM should make this right, but apparently they won't.
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  2. #2
    This shouldn't surprise anybody.

    7-8 years ago, Caesars was by far the worst when it came to nickel-and-diming customers. They led the charge when it came to lowering machine payouts, worsening table game rules, etc. MGM remained relatively enlightened for awhile, but in the past 3-4 years has far surpassed Caesars in general scumminess.

    Remember, this is the company that now charges its BS "resort fees" on ALL comped rooms, even for its Platinum and Noir players (the biggest whales out there.)

    There literally is no such thing as a free room at any MGM property anymore.

  3. #3
    I don't know the law but my guess is MGM did goof but they can't pay out twice. If they did the winner would collect twice -- the repayment from MGM and then the proper payment that's refunded by the state.

    It seems to me the system should have allowed for a quick fix of the error.
    Not a member, effective January 28, 2019

  4. #4
    I'm not buying MGM's story. When the wrong number was entered, the name would've been different than the correct one from the legitimate player.

    Also, why the hell can't the incorrect situation just be voided out and corrected? Massachusetts must be 60 years behind in technology.
    Last edited by jbjb; 01-11-2019 at 02:29 PM.

  5. #5
    Wow Dan ... Give the whining a break. Shit happens regardless whose fault it was. Just because you feel it could be handled differently don’t mean shit. I’m sure it will eventually be resolved.

    Take a nap you’ll feel better.

  6. #6
    Originally Posted by jbjb View Post
    I'm not buying MGM's story. When the wrong number was entered, the name would've been different than the correct one from the legitimate player.

    Also, why the hell can't the incorrect situation just be voided out and corrected? Massachusetts must be 60 years behind in technology.
    If she'd never won a jackpot before she wouldn't have been in their system to double-check that way. You'd think the child support check would also check the name against the SSN when they do the run for that but then again maybe not as that would be an easy way for people who owe child support to get around the withholding, or would also put the burden on the casino to double check when names don't match which is probably something they don't want to do.

    I personally always either watch them write down my SSN and check that it's correct, or ask to fill it in myself.

  7. #7
    Even if the winner gave the SS# correctly the problem was on the "back room" where the data was sent to the state.

    Yes someone at MGM goofed but the state's system needs a fix as well.

    No one said the winner will not be paid, right?

    I've been at casinos where jackpots were held because the player left their ID at home. No big deal, the player said they'd come back tomorrow with their ID.
    Not a member, effective January 28, 2019

  8. #8
    For those defending the casino, or accusing me of "whining", it's important to understand that the customer did absolutely nothing wrong, yet is being put through a hellish bureaucratic process (and long delay) to receive her rightfully won jackpot.

    Is the state of Maryland at fault? Definitely. Their system is clearly archaic and was designed to where it punishes innocent citizens for errors on the part of casino employees. That's unacceptable.

    But government is government, and all of us are old enough to have experienced laughable frustration and inefficiency when dealing with government entities.

    However, MGM is clearly at fault here, as well. Their employee mis-entered the data, which then resulted in the government erroneously confiscating the money.

    Being a private company, MGM has the ability to properly compensate this woman for the trouble. They have chosen not to. That's really bad. It's even worse that, upon being confronted by the media about the matter, they misleadingly claim that the law prevents them from compensating her. (Yet their actions proved that to be a lie, as they gave her $200 in freeplay!)

    For those stating, "She will eventually get paid, so what's the problem?", consider the following:

    Let's take an extreme example first.

    Say that it would take 2000 hours of work on her part, and a 5 year delay to get paid. Would you deem that acceptable? After all, she's "getting paid eventually", right?

    Obviously that would be completely unacceptable, and I'm sure you would all agree.

    Now, I'm sure you'll say, "But it WON'T take 2000 hours of work and 5 years to get paid!"

    Correct.

    But where does it cross that line?

    1000 hours of work and 2 years? Nope, still outrageous.

    200 hours of work and 1 year? Nope.

    100 hours of work and 6 months? Again, nope.

    So obviously there's some point where "getting paid eventually" isn't good enough, and if the government process to reclaim it is too difficult, cumbersome, or delayed, MGM should make it right and give her the equivalent amount (which they CAN do!)

    If it were as simple as visiting a state office, filling out a form, and waiting a week or so for it to be fixed, I'd agree that the $200 in freeplay is good enough compensation.

    However, it sounds like this will be a hellish battle with bureaucracy with no end in sight.

    MGM should just cough up the 4-figure jackpot to her in another form (freeplay, "emotional distress" payment, etc) and be done with it.
    Check out my poker forum, and weekly internet radio show at http://pokerfraudalert.com

  9. #9
    Senior Member
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    It appears Cynthia Obie was finally paid her jackpot by MGM National Harbor on January 12th. Funds were hand-delivered by casino employees to her Maryland residence.

    https://www.cdcgamingreports.com/mgm...mployee-error/

  10. #10
    I love this quote from the casino"

    “We apologized once again for the inconvenience and invited Ms. Obie back to MGM National Harbor to ensure she has the very best experience at our resort.”

    Bolded by me.

    Of course they want her back so she can LOSE IT ALL BACK!!

  11. #11
    Originally Posted by jbjb View Post
    I love this quote from the casino"

    “We apologized once again for the inconvenience and invited Ms. Obie back to MGM National Harbor to ensure she has the very best experience at our resort.”

    Bolded by me.

    Of course they want her back so she can LOSE IT ALL BACK!!
    It seems to me she's getting a comped weekend.
    Not a member, effective January 28, 2019

  12. #12
    Originally Posted by jbjb View Post
    I'm not buying MGM's story. When the wrong number was entered, the name would've been different than the correct one from the legitimate player.

    Also, why the hell can't the incorrect situation just be voided out and corrected? Massachusetts must be 60 years behind in technology.
    Not if it's a very common name such as Will Smith. I could see the confusion if two different people both named Will Smith have social security numbers one number off.

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