Muskogee man at odds with a Cherokee casino over a slot machine jackpot

Friday, March 4th 2005, 10:20 am
By: News On 6

A Muskogee County man says he's being cheated out of $4-million by the Cherokee Casino in Fort Gibson. The casino says the slot machine he was playing was malfunctioning and that it's virtually impossible to win that much money on the machine.

So what happens when there's a dispute like this? News on 6 reporter Steve Berg found out.

Jason Hutchinson says he'd been playing the Gems and Jewels machine at the Cherokee Casino in Fort Gibson when he'd hit the jackpot. Jason’s attorney, Dan Lowe: "Jason put in his money, the jackpot totaled over $4-million and we've never been told otherwise, he's entitled to $4-million."

Don't bet on it says the Cherokee Nation. Technically, it's possible, but they say on that particular machine, Hutchinson would have to have won $1,198, 3,585 times in a row to accumulate the $4-million plus jackpot, all in about half-an-hour's time. They say the "evidence of malfunction is overwhelming" and that it's posted on the machine that a "malfunction voids all pays and plays."

But Dave Lowe says there was no video surveillance of the incident. And he's upset that it's the Cherokee Nation that oversees the investigation. "We can't sue them in open court. We can't discover in any verifiable fashion that what they say is true. We just have to take their word for it. You're asking the judge to award you damages when the judge is the driver of the car that hit you."

But Cherokee Casino officials say they're regulated not just by the Cherokee Gaming Commission, but also by the National Indian Gaming Association. A Cherokee spokesman says that Hutchinson's claims are "ridiculous" and says he's "trying to use the media to put pressure on them and make them look bad."

The News on 6 asked Hutchinson if he really thought it was possible to win $4-million on that machine. "It wouldn't seem that far-fetched to me."

Dan Lowe: "There's no independent oversight in the state of Oklahoma and there needs to be."