Indian Tribe Using Sovereignty Laws To Not Pay Casino Jackpot


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Anyone who has ever played a slot machine can attest to the fact of how the odds are stacked against them when it comes to hitting a jackpot. Imagine how it would feel to hit the jackpot and then be told that you were not getting paid.

That is the scenario that is facing a New Mexico man after he apparently hit a $1.6 million jackpot at Sandia Resort and Casino in New Mexico, and then was escorted into a room where he was notified he would not be paid.

The man, Gary Hoffman, has sued to be awarded the money he claims he won, plus punitive damages. The problem he is running into is that the casino is run by an American Indian Tribe, and they are not under state law jurisdiction.

Paul Bardacke, a lawyer who represents Sandia Pueblo, has filed a motion to have the case dismissed saying, “The law is absolutely clear that the tribe is immune from this kind of suit.”

The casino claims that there was a malfunction to their slot machine, Mystical Mermaid, which means that any jackpots hit on the machine were not legally hit.

The question being raised by this case is of major concern, as is the outcome. If Indian Nations can just deny any jackpot claims simply because they are not governed by state laws, it will hurt business at these Indian run casinos around the nation.

Hoffman is alleging in his lawsuit a violation of The Unfair Trade Practices Act as well as breach of contract.

A similar case was brought up in Floria when a man hit a jackpot and tribe refused to payout the money. Because of the bad press, the Indian tribe decided to payout the man’s winnings even though they claimed it was a computer error. Read the full story of Freddy Howard’s Indian Jackpot.

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