MGM Grand Detroit Sued for Refusing to Pay $127K Blackjack Jackpot

Posted on: June 27, 2024, 06:15h. 

Last updated on: June 27, 2024, 06:15h.

A Michigan woman who won a $127K jackpot playing progressive blackjack at the MGM Grand Detroit is suing the casino after it refused to pay out and instead accused her of “trespassing.” That’s despite the plaintiff playing at the casino – and mainly losing – for more than 20 years.

MGM Grand Detroit, Denise Ezell, progressive blackjack, jackpot, lawsuit
Denise Ezell, above, believes she won the jackpot fair and square and the casino should pay up – especially since it has been taking her money for years without a quibble. (Image: Ivan Land via Detroit Free Press)

Denise Ezell, 65, visited the casino on October 30 last year with a friend to play at the progressive blackjack tables. This is a game where players can place a side bet in the hope that their two cards will combine with the dealer’s in a way that triggers a jackpot.

On the hand in question, Ezell held the jack and king of spades with the dealer showing the ace and queen of spades – a four-card straight flush that qualified for a big payout.

“It was exuberating,” Ezell told The Detroit Free Press Thursday. “We were high fiving … The dealer – he was excited. So were people around me. No one had ever seen anyone win that jackpot.”

‘Panhandling’ Claim

But when Ezell provided her driving license as ID, casino management told her she wouldn’t be paid because she was trespassing on the property. Instead, she was asked to leave.

It turns out that Ezell had been 86’d from the casino in 2015 after being accused of “panhandling.”

Ezell says the incident was a misunderstanding. She had been arguing with her cousin, who had refused to float her some cash when she started losing, as was the prearranged agreement when they gambled together, she claims. But casino security thought she was pestering a stranger for money, according to the lawsuit.

As she left on that occasion, Ezell asked the security guard “how long does this last?” She was told “maybe 24 or 48 hours,” the lawsuit states.

She received no notification from the casino, either by email, phone call, letter or text message, that she was not welcome on the property, the filing claims.

In the meantime, Ezell has been back hundreds of times, and the casino was always happy to take her money, she says.

‘They Take Your Damn Money’

In the days after her “win,” she called the casino and spoke to an employee who told her, “Don’t worry about them saying you were trespassing, we are going to get you your jackpot,” according to the lawsuit.

But when the employee called her back, he explained the matter had escalated “beyond his paygrade.”

I just thought when you won, they would pay you,” Ezell said. “When you lose, they take your damn money.”

The MGM Grand said it had not yet been formally served with the lawsuit when contacted by the Free Press on Thursday and was not able to comment.

Ezell described the casino’s reason for not paying the jackpot as “bull***t.”

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