REGINA - At the casino, it's often said that the house always wins.
Not this time. Staff at Casino Regina are trying to get back money from rogue gamblers who took advantage of a misloaded change-making machine that mistakenly gave out $20 bills instead of fives. By the time the glitch was noticed, baby could afford a lot more than a new pair of shoes. A total of $27,500 had been snatched up by opportunistic players.
Nearly half of that sum - $13,400 - has been recovered from the people involved and now the casino is looking at its legal options for getting the rest back.
"It was wrongfully taken," Saskatchewan Gaming Corp. President Marty Klyne said on Thursday.
"I can't interpret what was going on in their minds at the time, but you'd have to assume that if you put in a $20 bill and you expect four fives back and get four twenties, that your eyebrows might go up. I think if they had put a twenty in and got two fives back we would have heard about it pretty quickly."
The incident happened in October when the electronic machine, which can be used by patrons to break up large bills, was misloaded by an employee. A cartridge loaded with $20 bills was installed in the place where the $5 bills are supposed to go.
"We're satisfied that it was human error," Klyne said, noting the cartridges have since been more clearly labelled.
It took nearly two days before an honest person stumbled upon the mistake and reported it to staff. During that time, a "vast" number of people used the machine repeatedly because they knew it was paying off, Klyne said. One person collected $11,000. That would mean more than 180 trips.
Those who were identified as using the machine and not reporting the problem have been banned from the premises. The casino has asked its lawyers for an opinion on whether the rest of the money is recoverable through civil lawsuits, and Regina police have been asked to investigate.
Police spokeswoman Elizabeth Popowich said it is too early to say if a crime was committed.
"It's a little bit difficult to say what we would classify it as," Popowich said. "We're a very long way from the end of this investigation and it would be best not to second guess the outcome."
The fact that the machine belonged to a casino might have made people more inclined to take advantage of the situation, said Eldon Soifer, a University of Regina ethics professor.
"I think some people might say, 'Well it is just a casino, I don't mind ripping them off,"' Soifer said. "If it turned out that it was a machine where you were supposed to give donations to charity and it started spewing out extra money, I suspect you'd have many more people reporting the problem."
Casino Regina is owned by the Saskatchewan government, which means the money belongs to taxpayers.
give me a break. the guy finally found a machine that was paying off and they want their money back. its just not fair......