Iowa Supreme Court Upholds Ruling in Casino Software Case

May 21, 2015 - from Supreme Court of Iowa

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled on April 24, 2015 that a District court did not err in awarding summary judgment to a casino where a slot machine experienced a software malfunction.

When a gambling patron playing the Miss Kitty penny slot machine won $1.85, the machine also displayed a message stating that the gambler had won a bonus award of almost $41 million. The Court ruled that despite the message, the casino was not obligated to pay more than what the express contract between the casino and the gambler stated that the gambler could receive from playing a particular machine. The maximum payout that a patron could receive from the Miss Kitty machine was $99,999.99, and the machine’s rules did not provide for the possibility of receiving a bonus. Under these rules, the casino was not required to make the $41 million bonus award payment, but it did have to pay the patron the $1.85 that she had won under the rules of the game, which formed the terms of the express contract between the patron and the casino.

The Court’s decision points to the primacy of an express contract. While there may have been a failure of the machine’s software, the casino software expert’s testimony that the machine malfunctioned was not a disputed material fact that the Court needed to rely on to find for the casino at Summary Judgment. While the casino may have had recourse to claim that software failure rendered the bonus invalid, it did not even have to make that argument since the bonus award did not adhere to the rules of the express contract.

Read the court’s decision here.