New Mexico Casino Refuses to Pay Slot Player $542K Jackpot Due to Glitch, Man Says

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Management at Algodones, N.M.’s Black Mesa Casino told an unemployed veteran with heart ailments it won’t pay him the $542K he says he won on a slot machine last month.

Algodones, N.M.’s Black Mesa Casino sign, pictured above. A player and the casino got into a dispute over a $542K slot win. (Image: Santa Fe New Mexican)

Tommy Wilson, 74, of Las Cruces, N.M., said he hit the jackpot on February 25, the Albuquerque Journal newspaper reported this week. But the casino said there was a glitch with the machine.

On the day he won, bells went off, the machine shut itself off, and other players congratulated him on the jackpot, the report said. But a casino manager said there was no win.

They did their diagnostics, whatever that is, and said ‘this is not a legitimate win,’ that there was some kind of digital or electronic glitch, so they didn’t pay anything. Zero,” Wilson told the Journal.

Wilson recalls he was on the buffalo-themed slot for about five or six minutes and spent about $100 on it before it alerted him he had won.

A Black Mesa employee told him he can file a complaint with the casino’s gaming commission, which Wilson later found out is separate from the state regulator, the New Mexico Gaming Control Board.

“I didn’t file anything at that time because I was so perturbed,” Wilson told the Journal. He didn’t photograph the winning slot screen, nor did he get the names of the witnesses, the newspaper added.

Returns to Casino

Instead, Wilson went to Denver where he had a job interview. A few days later, he was driving back through Black Mesa and stopped at the casino to file a complaint.

“They told me they’ll be in touch, and they got my phone number and my email address,” Wilson told the Journal.

He decided to play the slots again. Once again, he was lucky on a machine, this time twice within about a half hour.

“I think it was called Kings of Africa and had pictures of lions on it,” he relayed to the Journal. One payout was for $1,226 and the other was for $1,446.

Still, Wilson could use the cash from the big payout. He says he’s unemployed and recently had triple bypass surgery. He spent much of his career making dental prosthetics.

Wilson served in the US Air Force and now hopes to get a job in Denver. He is staying with friends in Las Cruces.

Willing to Accept $50K

Wilson said he’s willing to take a lower payout than his original win, and would even accept a payment of $50,000.

You know, if they said, ‘Mr. Wilson, we’re sorry that this happened and we would like to offer you $50,000 as an apology,’ that would have been fine. Instead, they offered me nothing, and that’s not fine, that’s not OK,” he said.

The casino has a promotion where it gives active-duty service people and veterans $10 in free play on Wednesdays.

“What I want is justice, and justice will come in the form of karma,” Wilson said. “I’m a believer in that.”

Black Mesa management and the San Felipe Gaming Commission couldn’t be reached for comment by the Journal.

The casino is operated by the San Felipe Pueblo tribe. It’s about 32 miles north of Albuquerque.

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