MGM Grand Detroit Sued Over Unpaid $127K Blackjack Jackpot 

A woman who was denied a $127,000 progressive jackpot blackjack win at MGM Grand Detroit (pictured) in 2023 is suing the Michigan casino over the incident. 

Denise Ezell of Detroit hit the jackpot in October of last year. However, upon turning over her documentation to claim the win, she was informed she had been banned from the casino in 2015, and therefore was not a rightful winner. 

However, Ezell’s attorney, Ivan Land, claims that his client was never formally told about the ban. The lawsuit also says Ezell returned to the casino on a number of occasions between 2015 and her 2023 win, which came without being denied entry or play by casino staff. 

After six months of contacting MGM and the Michigan Gaming Control Board, Ezell and Land have decided to take the case to the courts. 

The Win 

Ezell was at home on October 30, 2023, when a friend called her up and asked if she wanted to go gambling in downtown Detroit. 

Ezell, who works full-time as an administrative assistant for the state of Michigan, said her finances weren’t flush, and she initially declined. However, her friend offered to stake her $100 for an evening out. The pair initially visited Hollywood Greektown Casino, staying there for several hours before moving on to MGM Grand Detroit. 

Ezell was down to her last round of wagers when her customary poker hand side bet paid off. Progressive blackjack games offer various side bets, and on this one players hit the jackpot prizes if their and the dealer’s hands matched top poker hands. 

In this case, Ezell was sitting on a Jack and King of Spades, when the dealer pulled an Ace and a Queen of Spades. That made a straight flush, one of the best hands in poker, and bagged her the second-best progressive jackpot prize of $127,000.

Or so she thought. 

After several minutes of celebration, during which time Ezell was already thinking of what the windfall might do for her life, a pit boss appeared. They asked for her driver’s license, and then confirmed her identity. However, then came the twist. 

Ezell was told she had been banned from the casino in 2015. And since she was technically trespassing when she made her wager, it was not valid and the jackpot would not be paid out.

The 2015 Incident 

Nine years ago, Ezell and her cousin were at the tables at the very same Detroit casino.

Ezell says the pair had agreed they would stake each other a 50% extra bankroll if either of them lost what they came with, and then split any profits if it turned into a winning session. 

However, that night, her cousin wasn’t feeling it, and decided she wanted to go home. Ezell asked for the agreed stake, and her cousin declined. That led to an argument, which Ezell says wasn’t even that heated, before casino security kicked Ezell out.

Security accused her of panhandling and bothering other patrons, before escorting her outside. On the way out, the lawsuit says, Ezell claims to remember specifically asking the security guard if she was banned.

“I asked, ‘How long does this last?’ He said, ‘Maybe 24 or 48 hours.’ So I just left. I was pissed.”

Within a month, Ezell was back playing at the casino. She says she came back under the assumption she was not banned, since she was allowed entrance and to gamble.

“Do you think I would have gone down there and spent my money for eight years, knowing I was trespassing?” she said while speaking to the Detroit Free Press. 

The Lawsuit 

Fast forward to 2023, and an MGM pit boss was explaining to an increasingly frustrated Ezell that the casino would not be paying out her jackpot win because of the previous incident. 

However, she is now legally claiming that the casino unlawfully denied her of the winnings. Land filed a lawsuit on Ezell’s behalf in the Western District Court of Michigan this week. 

“She didn’t receive an email, mail, telephone call,” Land said. 

“She had no knowledge that she was banned from this casino, and I don’t believe she was banned from the casino.”

“They allowed her to gamble there and spend her hard-earned money for eight years, and then, when she hits the jackpot, they run this crap, ‘Hey, you shouldn’t be here in the first place.’ “

Neither MGM Grand Detroit or its owner and operator MGM Resorts International have commented on the lawsuit.

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