A man who thought he had won a £37m jackpot on a fruit machine was sorely disappointed when casino bosses waived off the win as a “computer error” and gave him just £60 and a meal voucher instead.
Swiss gambler Behar Merlaku, 26 thought his luck had changed when he got just four out of five matches and the slot machine started ringing and flashing its lights at a casino in Bregenz, Austria, telling him he had won millions.
But his win turned sour when casino operators told him that it was a mistake, and he had to accept the meal voucher and £60 or leave the premises.
Angry and embittered, Merlaku is now taking his case to courts, in one of the biggest ever lawsuits against Casinos Austria AG, claiming he is owed the money the machine announced he had won. Gaming operators are said to be watching the case with baited breath.
The casino is blaming the people who made the software for it malfunction, whilst pointing to an Austrian law that says winnings can’t be any higher than £1.7m (2m euros).
Merkaku told Austrian newspaper Heute in August: "When I won I was ecstatic and of course I relied upon it being a real jackpot which it was. I saw it on the screen.
"But then the disappointment came when two casino workers came to me and said there was a software error. They took me for a fool which I am not. I've played in many casinos and I know the way the cookie crumbles. It doesn't concern me if they have a software problem.
"I also received a letter saying that a casino worker had manipulated the jackpot by mistake. That's not my problem either, win is win.
"I will fight for this until my death. It is outrageous what they have done to me and my family. I want to spread what happened to me all over Europe. I don't accept it."
Merlaku’s legal team told the Daily Mail: "The slot machine that produced the winning display was immediately accessed by Casinos Austria.
"There was no contemporaneous independent assessment of the claimed error, and no opportunity has since been afforded by the company for the machine software to be analysed, other than by Atronic, a supplier to it of jackpot controllers.
"The regulator, the Austrian Ministry of Finance, has shown no interest in pursuing an orderly investigation as would be the case in well regulated gaming jurisdictions such as the UK, Switzerland, Singapore, the USA, Australia and Macau."
The first hearing in the case is scheduled for 10 January next year.