Friends Don’t Let Friends Touch Their Slot Machines!

Everyone needs a little luck at the casino, especially when playing slot machines. Those money-hungry devices can be very stingy at times. But be careful how you ask for that luck, or you may find yourself out a $100,000 slot machine jackpot, like one Florida casino patron did last month.

Slot MachinesWe all make poor decisions in life. Some of them, we recognize immediately as being a bad decision, like answering that “Unknown Caller”, or waking up next to your ex after a few too many drinks.

66 year old Florida gambler Jan Flato knows the sting of a bad decision all too well. More like a hundred-thousand stings. All because he asked his lady friend, 35 year old Marina Navarro, to push his slot machine’s button for good luck.

Mr. Flato was playing at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino just outside of Fort Lauderdale last month when the unimaginable occurred. It wasn’t unimaginable that a slot machine jackpot could actually strike, but that he was not eligible to collect the winnings from it. Here’s what happened…

$100k Slot Machine Jackpot Lost

The man had inserted $50 in a slot machine. His eyes were on the prize – a potential $100,000 jackpot. After spinning the reels for a bit, he decided to ask his friend, Ms. Navarro, if she would press the ‘Spin’ button for him – just once – for luck.

She did, and boy was it a lucky touch! The reels spun their way to absolute perfection, lining up the symbols in heavenly unison. The slot machine jackpot had been struck, delivering the life-changing $100,000 payout he’d so longed for.

But things took a mysterious turn when the slots manager came over to investigate the win. As casinos always do, they went back over the surveillance video to make sure everything was on the up and up. Yes, the machine had struck the jackpot. Yes, the $100k prize was to be paid. But no, Mr. Flato would not be the one receiving it.

As it turns out, casino rules state that it’s not the person who put the money in the machine who wins it, but rather the person who pressed the button. And that was Ms. Navarro.

“The person who pushes a slot machine button or pulls the arm is the person who wins the jackpot,” explained Seminole spokesman Gary Bitner.

His Side of the Story…

Jan Flato on WSVN 7 News MiamiAs directed, Ms. Navarro headed for the cashier cage to collect the prize. What she didn’t do – what most of you are probably thinking you would have done – was go back to Mr. Flato and hand over the money, or even half of the money. Heck, even a $10k tip would have been nice, right?

Instead, Mr. Flato said she headed right out the door – right after asking the casino’s armed security guards to keep an eye on Mr. Flato until she was off the premises.

“I said, ‘Marina, what are you doing?’ and she gets up and walks out,” Flato told local new media.

He said that, a few weeks later, he received a text message from her asking, “Still hate me?” He responded with, “How could you do that to me?”, to which he says she only replied, “I miss you”.

Those messages were never shown to the media, only alleged by the 66 year old gambler. Mr. Flato then told WSVN News Miami that yes, he is still furious at her for taking the money and walking out.

Her Side of the Story…

Marina Navarro (Facebook)When WSVN caught up with Marina Navarro, her version of the story was a little different. She said that Mr. Flato became very upset when casino staff informed him that the slot machine jackpot was not his.

“Jan all of a sudden went ballistic. He started screaming in front of everybody,” she said.

Due to his augmented mood change, she decided it would be best to get away from Mr. Flato, asking security to keep an eye on him while she did so. She also said that she had offered to give Mr. Flato some of the money, but that she changed her mind when he started sending her threatening text messages.

She showed reporters a pair of messages from Mr. Flato that read:

“Having me as an enemy ….not good”


“We’ll [see] who made the Big mistake. It won’t be me.”

Play Your Own Slot Machines

The moral of the story here is pretty obvious. If you’re going to play slot machines, don’t let anyone else touch the machine. Insert your own cash. Press your own buttons. And if Lady Luck graces you with a big win, you’ll be bale to collect your own slot machine jackpot.

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