EXCLUSIVE: Lawsuit Details Michigan Woman’s Claim That BetMGM Owes Her $3 Million

Written By Matt Schoch on June 24, 2021

A Michigan woman is claiming BetMGM Casino is refusing to pay her $3 million in winnings, and the online gambling industry will be watching what happens next.

Jacqueline Davis of Detroit alleged BetMGM representatives told her there was a glitch in an online roulette game she won big on, and as a result, they wouldn’t pay her out. Davis has filed a complaint in Wayne County Circuit Court against BetMGM. The lawsuit, a copy of which has been obtained exclusively by PlayMichigan, was first reported by Detroit television station Fox 2.

PlayMichigan reached out to BetMGM, but a spokesperson said the company cannot comment on legal matters.

A spokesperson for the state’s online gambling regulator, the Michigan Gaming Control Board, said Thursday that “to the best of our knowledge,” the MGCB has not yet received a complaint from Davis.

“We will be happy to review the patron’s complaint if it is filed in accordance with our procedures,” according to spokesperson Mary Kay Bean of the board. (We’ll have more on this process below.)

Detroit woman says she played ‘Luck o’ the Roulette’ for five days

The 57-page complaint alleges Davis played the Luck o’ the Roulette online game for five straight days in March.

The lawsuit says Davis started with a $50 deposit on March 18. She played $4.50 on her first try. She then bumped up to $150 bets that day, and started up racking up the wins. As the wins kept coming over the next few days, Davis eventually played the maximum bet of $5,000.

However, according to an alleged email from BetMGM to her attorney David Steingold presented as evidence in the complaint, Davis was banking off a malfunctioning process.

According to the complaint, BetMGM’s Jeremy N. Kolman wrote April 12 that the malfunction “resulted in certain win amounts being multiplied when transferred from the onscreen balance to the patron’s wallet. This resulted in an inaccurate and inflated amount being awarded to Ms. Davis’s wallet despite Ms. Davis not actually winning that amount in the game.”

When asked by Fox 2 if she knew there was a glitch, Davis replied no.

“How would I?” she said, continuing: “I mean, that’s the purpose of gambling, you’re playing to win.”

Davis seeks more than $3 million from BetMGM

From playing the game, which is no longer available on the platform in Michigan, the lawsuit alleges that on March 23, Davis had $3,288,616.42 in her account.

The lawsuit alleges fraud, conversion and breach of contract by BetMGM of its user agreement.

Three days after opening her account, Davis alleged she submitted a request to collect $100,000 from MGM Grand Detroit.

The next day, during which time she claims she was now betting the maximum $5,000 and racking up more money in her account, a VIP host at BetMGM allegedly responded to congratulate Davis on her “Big Win.”

Davis said she went to MGM Grand Detroit on March 23 and collected the $100,000 in cash. After collecting, she says her account was then suspended and the rest of her balance was not paid to her.

The complaint seeks the court to award the balance of $3,188,616.42 to Davis, in addition to costs and attorney fees.

Davis: BetMGM offered $23,000 on top of original $100k

In the complaint, Davis says she called BetMGM, which is based in Delaware, repeatedly about the balance.

She alleges that in one phone call, a BetMGM representative told her she “was not supposed to win” and was offered $23,000 in cash or $75,000 in BetMGM credits in addition to the $100,000 already withdrawn.

All this, the complaint says, would come “on condition that she agrees not to discuss or reveal BetMGM’s refusal to pay her apparent winnings.”

The complaint then said: “The BetMGM representative refused to put this offer in writing.”

On April 12, BetMGM allegedly replied with Kolman’s email, along with a spreadsheet of Davis’ plays that was not included in the complaint. The complaint says the spreadsheet indicated the game malfunctioned on 2.5% of her plays.

The complaint also says that while the email indicated about $4.1 million came to Davis from the overpays, the game still accepted high wager amounts on rounds in which Davis lost.

BetMGMRouletteComplaint

MGCB: BetMGM reported glitch in ‘Luck o’ the Roulette’ game

Bean, of the state board, said earlier this year BetMGM notified the regulator of a “flaw causing a payout malfunction.” The “Luck O’ the Roulette” game has been withdrawn from all Michigan operators.

Meanwhile, the MGCB details its procedure on complaints as follows, according to Bean:

“Anyone who feels they’ve been treated unfairly by an authorized internet casino or online sportsbook operator may file a complaint with the operator and the MGCB. You can find information about the complaint process and a patron dispute form link on our website, www.michigan.gov/mgcb (see How To File a Complaint on the home page).

“By law, internet gaming operators, internet gaming platform providers, sports betting operators or internet sports betting platform providers must include on their internet gaming platform or internet sports betting platform a clear mechanism advising patrons of their right to make a complaint. This information typically is found in terms and conditions or on player protection pages, and the MGCB also will provide it on request.

“Before filing a complaint with the MGCB, the bettor must file a complaint with an operator or platform provider. The operator or platform provider will investigate the complaint and provide a written response within 10 calendar days after receipt of the complaint. A bettor then may file a complaint with the agency if dissatisfied with the operator or platform provider’s response. The complaints are assigned to regulation officers for review, and weekly status meetings are held.

“Upon receipt of a complaint, the MGCB may conduct any investigation it considers necessary and may direct an operator or platform provider to take any corrective action.”

How would MGCB rule on case? That’s an open question

How the MGCB would rule on such a case would be of statewide and industry-wide interest. Rarely do these types of disputes play out publicly.

Although all the particulars and considerations of this case aren’t known, Michigan’s Lawful Internet Gaming Rules address voiding internet wagers.

The rule states: “An internet gaming operator or internet gaming platform provider may not void a completed internet wager without board approval unless a void is necessary to resolve an internet gaming platform or internet game error or malfunction.”

BetMGM leads Michigan market in casino

Michigan internet gaming has been big business in the state since its Jan. 22 launch, with online casinos and online poker generating huge revenue.

BetMGM has led the way in the market, with its $141.7 million in revenue constituting 36.0% of the market share, despite 12 other operators in competition.

Through May, the internet gaming sector has raised $393.9 million in total revenue, netting the state $71.5 million in tax revenue. The city of Detroit has raised $20.9 million in taxes and fees, while tribal casino operators have raised $7.3 million.

Photo by Carlos Osorio/AP
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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He's also the host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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