Payout A Software Bug

You really hate to see stories like this one:

For about an hour last August, Gary Hoffman was a very lucky man.

Hoffman was playing the nickel slot machines at the Sandia Resort and Casino on an Indian reservation in New Mexico when he appeared to hit the jackpot: the machine said he won nearly $1.6 million.

“I became ecstatic,” he said.

But the ecstasy was short-lived. Hoffman says in a lawsuit filed earlier this year that Sandia refused to pay, claiming that the machine malfunctioned. Instead, he said, they gave him about $385 and a few free meals at the casino.

“I won money, fair and square, and I’ve been cheated out of my winnings,” Hoffman told ABC News.

The casino says it’s not responsible for what it describes as a computer error and says it offered Hoffman the maximum payout of $2,500 for that particular slot machine. But, a jury may never decide who is right. Lawyers told ABC News that gamblers like Hoffman may have little legal recourse against Native American casinos, which sometimes operate beyond the reach of U.S. courts.

Because the more this becomes common place (“It’s a bug” or “It’s a malicious attack!”), the more fault-tolerant our society becomes. Which is okay in the course of online sweepstake, but when all standards for business machinery fall to those low levels, certain non-fungible values (money, altitude, and so on) will be held to the same lax standards.

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