A tourist who didn’t know he’d won almost $230,000 at a Las Vegas casino admits he thought he was being scammed when police contacted him three weeks later to reveal his life-changing windfall.

Robert Taylor from Arizona played on the Treasure Island casino slots with his brother and father last month and headed home to Phoenix following his vacation.

He had no idea that the slot machine he was playing – “The Mask” – was malfunctioning and that he had won a progressive jackpot worth $229,368.52.

It was only when the casino staff realized the error and worked with Nevada gaming regulators and the police to track down the unknowing Taylor.

Almost three weeks after the trip, Taylor says he received a phone call telling him he’d won thousands of dollars.

“We were very skeptical,” he admitted, after returning to Treasure Island to receive his check.

“We were waiting for them to start asking for credit card numbers and stuff like that. It just didn’t seem like it could be legit.

“I can say that nothing like this has ever happened to me before.”

Discussing his experience of playing the game, Taylor added: “It froze up multiple times, so I thought it was just malfunctioning.

“I was in a bonus feature, and the wheel on the game just kept spinning. There was no indication that I had won anything at all, no bells or whistles.”

Tracking Down Taylor

Taylor had played the slot machine on January 8th and headed back to his hotel at the Luxor after believing he had failed to win a payout. The next day the 27-year-old returned to Phoenix.

A few days later, however, Treasure Island staff discovered there was a “communication error” with the progressive jackpot network and alerted the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

This triggered a manhunt to find the unknown jackpot winner, led by the chief of the board’s enforcement division, James Taylor.

“We had video, but not much else to go on,” he said. “Everybody is wearing masks, and he wasn’t using a player’s card or staying at (Treasure Island’s) hotel. It took some time. It was quite the deal.”

The police managed to track the winner down using data from his brother’s Uber account.

“Honestly, if he hadn’t taken a ride share that day, I don’t think we would have been able to locate him,” James Taylor added.

What Is A Progressive Jackpot?

This win was so big because of the progressive jackpot system in place for The Mask slot machine that Taylor was playing on.

When a player spins on a slot with a progressive jackpot, a small slice of their bet is added to an overall jackpot. These machines throughout Nevada, New Jersey, etc. are linked together. And that means everyone playing on the machines contributes to a greater pot.

The jackpot grows and grows over time before it is triggered by one lucky winner.

Progressive jackpots are common in Vegas and Atlantic City, but the technology required to run them effectively is, as evidenced by Taylor’s case, occasionally glitchy.

The same principle is also applied to online casino slots, where certain machines provided by developers to various casino sites all interlink to create one big progressive jackpot.

The biggest online progressive jackpot win was a €19,430,723.60 ($22,226,124.65) windfall for an unnamed European gamer on the Absolootly Mad: Mega Moolah slots in April 2021.

Joe Ellison

Joseph is a dedicated journalist and horse racing fanatic who has been writing about sports and casinos for over a decade. He has worked with some of the UK's top bookmakers and provides Premier League soccer tips on a regular basis. You'll likely find him watching horse racing or rugby when he isn't writing about sport.

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