Among one of the most-widespread conceptions related to casinos is that the house always comes out the winner at the end. That is not a surprise taking into account that casino is also a business, designed to bring profits to its owner. Usually, the house stacks the odds in its favor, but the player also has a chance, even though lesser, to win. But that is not the case with Jerry Rape – a gambler from Alabama. In 2011, Jerry Rape invested $5 into an electronic gambling machine at the tribe’s Wind Creek Casino in Montgomery. The luck seemed to be on Rape’s side as the bingo machine’s sirens activated, indicating that the fortunate player hit the jackpot of $1,37 million.
To the player’s amazement, the casino, which is located on a tribal land and operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, denied to pay out Rape’s win, claiming that that particular bingo machine was not functioning in a proper manner.
The “unfortunate fortunate” Rape explained that after winning the jackpot, the casino workers detained him in a back room, where he was threatened and refused any payment. Mr. Rape decided to take the matters into his hands and filed a legal lawsuit against the tribal nation. His attempt, though, turned unsuccessful as the court ruled out in favor of the tribe. It was explained that the court’s decision is based on the sovereign immunity of the tribal nations, i.e. the tribal nations are independent and thus, immune from being sued.
Alabama High Court Hands are Tied
But Mr. Rape appealed the court’s decision and brought the case to the Alabama state court. After a 7-year-long legal battle, the court announced its final decision that the tribe cannot be sued also in the state court, but only in a tribal court. The Judge’s ruling in the Rape’s case says that supposing that the casino was located on a non-tribal land, the court would most probably rule out in Rape’s favor. But in that particular case, this is impossible due to the tribal nations’ exceptional rights. Alabama High Court added that even if the tribal nation did not have this immunity, the court would be still unable to announce a decision on the case, as the casino is located in Elmore County, which is not part of Alabama. Therefore, it is not under Alabama jurisdiction statute. Rape’s attorney, Matt Abbott said that there are no other legal methods left, as they have appealed to all the possible instances.
In fact, this is not the only case, in which a player is denied payout due to a “malfunctioned” electronic gambling machine. In August 2016 Katrina Bookman hit a life-changing jackpot of nearly $43 million jackpot from playing Sphynx slot machine in the Resorts World Casino. Similar to Mr. Rape, she was denied payout by the casino, which claimed that the machine was “malfunctioned”.