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Michigan Slot Machine Headed to State Supreme Court

When Jaqueline Davis won $3 million playing online roulette at BetMGM in Michigan back in 2021, she thought that her ship had arrived. Her dreams of sudden wealth quickly faded when the operator refused to pay out her jackpot claiming that the game was malfunctioning. The two sides have been battling in court ever since and now the case is heading towards the Michigan Supreme Court.

At the heart of the legal fight is an issue that could have big ramifications for operators and players across the country, can a gaming settle civil matters or is that entirely up to the civil court system? In Davis’ case, the plaintiff learned during discovery that the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) had warned BetMGM that the operator had not informed them of the game’s malfunction in a timely manner and that it could face formal actions if that happened again.

BetMGM claimed that under Michigan’s Lawful Internet Gambling Act (LIGA) that the MGCB had complete authority over the matter and that it was settled. A Michigan appeals court agreed with the company and let the matter stand. In a dissenting opinion, Judge Kathleen A. Feeney stated, that civil courts should have authority in these matters rather than the MGCB saying, “And by denying plaintiff a forum by which to pursue her claim of unpaid winnings, the majority’s decision lends a new meaning to the old gambling adage that the House always wins.”

It’s unclear when the Michigan Supreme Court will hear the case, but its outcome will certainly be watched by operators across the country who would prefer to litigate in the more gaming-friendly environment of a gaming control board meeting than in a civil courthouse.