Why North Texans should consider other options. To view video of this story click on or copy and paste link below in your address bar. Or go to WFAA’s site and type Winstar Casino in their search. Are these the kind of people you want to trust to give you a fair shake. The death threat part really should be an indicator to avoid this establishment. You never know you could be the next big winner to not get paid, then threatened and then the subject of legal action.
While Oklahoma has become Las Vegas' competition by drawing in Texas residents to its 85 casinos and bingo parlors, Indian property gambling regulations have some questioning their rules and fairness.
An Arlington man said he thought his life would be forever changed when he was told he had won $11,289,874.74 after playing on a WinStar Casino machine that displayed the word "Congratulations!"
While Stanley Rosemond's life did change, it wasn't in the way he expected—and it was without $11 million.
Last summer, Rosemond went to WinStar, 85 miles north of Dallas. After the casino slot "big win," he was escorted to the cashier's booth, where he said employees seemed excited for him.
"The attendant inside shows me the numbers and says, 'Would you like to see what you've won?'" he said.
But after waiting several hours, Rosemond and his wife were taken to a large empty room and were seated before casino officials.
"[There was] four of them and two of us, and they're on one side and we're on the other side," Rosemond said. "We don't know what to expect."
The mood got less festive when the casino told Rosemond there would be no $11 million prize coming his way.
"He says, 'OK, your machine malfunctioned, so we can't pay you,'" Rosemond recalled.
Rosemond failed to spot a tiny warning label on the WinStar machine: "Malfunctions void all plays and pays."
That didn't stop him from feeling as though the casino should still pay up.
"You shouldn't have a machine that malfunctions," he said. "It should work, and if it doesn't, work the casino should stand behind it, because they are taking people's money away."
William Thompson, who teaches public administration at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, is an expert in the gambling business. He said while slot machines can malfunction, the casinos owe it to their customers to pay them unless the player is cheating.
Las Vegas slot machines can clear $100,000 a year per machine, he said.
"You pay the player off," he said. "Your machine was wrong. You screwed up. How about a malfunction when the player's supposed to win and it shows a loss?"
WinStar Casinos, which is owned by the Chickasaw Indian tribe, declined to talk on camera to News 8.
In a written statement, WinStar said, "Mr. Rosemond is claiming a win bigger than the machine could possibly pay based on the type of machine, the denomination and the wager." The tribe said the machine could only pay only $5,000. Rosemond said WinStar offered him a series of take it or leave it settlements that started out at $800, which he turned down. They subsequently offered Rosemond $1,199, which is $1 less than the casino would have to report to the IRS. They said he could accept it on the spot or leave with nothing.
"We didn't know what we could do," Rosemond said.
Rosemond said he took the casino's offer because he felt trapped. He tried to keep the one key piece of evidence from WinStar of his "malfunctioned" win—a card given to every WinStar player that tracks their identity and winnings.
However, once he was told he had won big, casino officials confiscated it. Despite asking for the card back, Rosemond left without it after the assistant general manager said the card belonged to the Chickasaw Nation.
"This is duress," Thompson said. "Any signature in those situations is under duress [and] should have no legal standing."
Kay Vanwey, who was hired as Rosemond's lawyer after he returned from Oklahoma, was stopped in her tracks when she discovered the tribe would not let her take legal action in the case.
"It is the Chickasaw Nation that makes the laws," Vanwey said. "It is the Chickasaw Nation that interprets the laws. It is the Chickasaw Nation that enforces the laws."
She received a letter from the tribe's lawyer saying, "All inquiries you make may be at your own personal peril and those people you hope to represent."
"If the intent was to intimidate me and frighten me, I certainly took it that way," she said.
WinStar is the largest of 11 Chickasaw casinos in Oklahoma, casinos that netted more than $91 million last year, according to tribal records. Complaints about payment from Oklahoma Indian casinos are not rare.
Oklahoma Assistant Attorney General Bill Leader said he gets about a dozen complaints from gamblers at [Oklahoma] Indian casinos a year, but has no jurisdiction in resolving them.
Back in Las Vegas, Bill Thompson minces no words about the lesson behind this.
"You ought to have a sign on the border of Oklahoma: 'You're about to enter Oklahoma and gamble in a casino. Two things can happen. They are both bad. You can lose and you can win. You ain't getting paid,'" he said.
Last November, Rosemond received a summons from the Chickasaw tribal court in Oklahoma. He was the subject of a legal action, and in a declaratory judgment, the tribe said the case was closed.
News 8 asked the Chickasaw Nation how many casino malfunctions they have a year; they did not reply.