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Thread: Woman gets jackpot confiscated at MGM National Harbor due to identity screwup, casino won't make it right

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    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Woman gets jackpot confiscated at MGM National Harbor due to identity screwup, casino won't make it right

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

    MGM National Harbor is the largest casino in the DC/Baltimore area.

    A woman from DC won a jackpot "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:

    Quote 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.

    However, 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.

  2. #2
    Silver sah_24's Avatar
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    As always the gov't is a bunch of crooks ...

  3. #3
    i would bet she gets it after all this neg.attn./Bad Publicity. Thanks to the internet and exposure such as this, she has a chance to recoup the $$$..... p.s. you for got the drink coupons they offered her also.

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