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BUENA PARK : Teacher Sues Casino Over Missed Jackpot

A Buena Park teacher is suing a Las Vegas casino, claiming she was cheated out of a chance to win a nearly $100,000 jackpot on a dollar slot machine.

In her lawsuit against the Frontier Hotel, Heather Devon, 35, claims that she left the slot machine she had been playing all night after a hotel employee told her the machine would be held for her until she returned from breakfast.

But when Devon returned, she discovered that the slot machine had paid off the $97,823 jackpot to someone else.

Devon, a substitute elementary school teacher, said in an interview Monday that she started playing on the machine in the early evening of Nov. 6, 1991, and continued to drop three coins at a time into the machine nonstop for 12 hours.

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It was a “hot machine,” paying off a number of times, Devon said.

“I’ve never been on a slot machine where the money was pouring out,” said Devon, who began playing with only $100. “I was winning so much money. . . . Twenty thousand dollars had gone in and out of the machine.”

Devon said at 8:45 the next morning, her mother, Beverly Devon, wanted to go to breakfast. But Devon said she didn’t want to leave the slot machine. She said she knew the machine was ready to hit the jackpot any time.

“I knew I was going to hit on that machine,” Devon said. “There was no doubt about it.”

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She said a hotel employee told her that the slot machine could be locked up until she returned from breakfast.

Devon said she “wasn’t comfortable leaving the machine” because she had never heard of casinos “holding” slot machines for patrons.

Devon says the employee assured her the slot machine would be held so no one else could play it.

Devon said she and her mother then went next door to the Stardust Hotel to eat because food workers were on strike at the Frontier Hotel. When she returned, she found a crowd around the machine she had been playing. Someone else had won the jackpot.

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“I was in shock,” she said.

Devon said she never would have left the slot machine had she known it would be open to other patrons.

“They promised me they would lock it up and that I had no need to worry. But they fell back on their word,” she said.

Her lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Nevada, seeks unspecified general and punitive damages.

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“The reason she lost the chance of this money is because she did what they told her to do,” said Melvin M. Belli, one of Devon’s attorneys. “They misled her. I think it’s a case of negligence and carelessness.”

Attorneys for the Frontier Hotel could not be reached for comment Monday.

Belli said Devon’s case is novel and “off the beaten path.”

The celebrated attorney, who has earned the title “King of Torts” because of his work representing personal-injury victims, said the hotel broke a promise that caused his client to lose the chance of winning the jackpot.

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Devon said the incident has ruined her life. She said she hopes that through her lawsuit “justice is done.”

“I just hope that the truth is known and that the good, honest person will win for a change,” she said.

Belli said he believes his client’s suit will pay off. “Eventually, I think it will be worth waiting for,” he said.


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