Robert Taylor hit the jackpot at Treasure Island Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas last month — but due to a slot machine glitch, he walked away unaware of his big win.
It took weeks of “good old-fashioned police work” to find him and award him his money, says James Taylor (no relation to the winner), chief of the enforcement division at the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
“We thought it was a long shot to be able to identify him,” Taylor told As It Happens host Carol Off.
“But we really wanted to put a lot of effort into this. It was the right thing to do to find the owner of this money.”
Arizona resident Robert Taylor had only been playing The Mask slot machine for a few minutes on Jan. 8 when it started glitching out. He was paid out his remaining credits and a few more dollars for his trouble, Chief Taylor said, “so he walked out of there with about $40.”
When the machine was fixed two days later, the casino learned Taylor was owed a lot more than that: He hit the $229,368.52 US ($290,644.32 Cdn) progressive jackpot.
Two days later, Treasure Island asked the Nevada Gaming Control Board to help identify the winner.
The search took 20 days and hundreds of hours of combing through surveillance footage. There were no clues about the winner’s name or where he came from — and since this wasn’t a criminal case, Taylor said his team couldn’t rely on legal methods like subpoenas.
“All we had to go on was the clothes he was wearing, the people he was with and the part of his face that wasn’t covered with a mask,” Taylor said.
Finally, after poring over surveillance footage around the casino and the hotel, investigators saw someone matching the winner’s description get into a vehicle.
Investigators got in touch with the ride-hailing company to help notify the winner and his family. Taylor says the winner was skeptical at first, but “he was very appreciative of the efforts that my agents had gone into to identify him.”
On Feb. 5, Robert Taylor and his family travelled back to Vegas, where they were presented with the ceremonial cheque at Treasure Island Hotel & Casino.