Nevada's reputation on line

The Nevada Supreme Court is getting a rare chance to decide whether a Reno casino should pay a $1.8 million slot jackpot despite claims that the slot machine malfunctioned.

Cengiz "Gene" Sengel of San Jose, Calif., was playing a Quartermania machine in the Silver Legacy in 1996 when the winning combination lined up. Four years later, though, he doesn't have the money.

Usually, the state's Gaming Control Board and Gaming Commission decide these matters. And in this case, they decided against Sengel.

But he and his lawyer have taken the case to the Supreme Court. It's just the kind of case that would interest anyone who has ever walked into a Nevada casino.

See what you think.

Even though the winning symbols lined up on Sengel's machine, the jackpot wasn't allowed because the cash drawer on the machine was ajar.

Sorry, the game's manufacturer said, that's a malfunction. And it says right here on the machine that any malfunction voids the play.

Would you sit still for that one? Would you nod politely, say "Gee, that's unfortunate" and start pumping more quarters in the machine in the hopes that the symbols will line up again - and that the cash drawer will be functioning properly this time?

Or would you point out that, from where you stand, it looks like you just won $1.8 million.

Supreme Court justices hearing the case Wednesday noted that more than a jackpot is on the line in cases like this one. So is Nevada's reputation for running legitimate games.

Perhaps it wasn't the casino's fault the cash drawer malfunctioned. Perhaps it wasn't the fault of the manufacturer, International Game Technology, that the cash drawer malfunctioned.

One thing is for sure, though. It sure as hell wasn't Cengiz Sengel's fault.


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