Detroit Woman Sues MGM Over Unpaid $127,000 Jackpot

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Detroit Woman Sues MGM Over Unpaid $127,000 Jackpot
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Back in 2015, Denise Ezell was playing blackjack at the MGM Grand in Detroit when she and a fellow patron got into an argument over money. 

According to the Detroit Free Press, a security guard approached Ezell and told her she had to leave because she was panhandling. Ezell agreed to leave, but only after she told the security guard that the patron she was arguing with was her cousin and that she was not, in fact, panhandling.

On her way out the door, Ezell asked the security guard how long she would have to stay away from the property. She says he told her “maybe 24 or 48 hours.”

Two weeks later, Ezell returned to the property to gamble, never again to be hassled. Until this past October, that is, when she won a $127,000 progressive blackjack jackpot — one that the MGM Grand has refused to pay out and which now sits at the center of a lawsuit Ezell filed against the casino in U.S. District Court last week.

Ezell won her jackpot on Oct. 30, but when she went to collect her winnings, the casino conducted a routine ID check and told her she was trespassing. This edict stemmed from the aforementioned 2015 incident.

Ezell said she never received any followup notification from the casino telling her that she was barred from visiting the property due to the panhandling claim, and in fact had been playing there weekly for the better part of the past decade without issue.

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

In the days after the casino refused to pay out, Ezell called its security department. She claims a staffer there told her, “We are going to get you your jackpot,” before later walking back that promise and saying the matter had been escalated to upper management.

Ezell’s attorney, Ivan Land, told the Free Press she had no choice but to sue after MGM’s legal team refused to respond to Land’s inquiries and the Michigan Gaming Control Board said it couldn’t force the casino to do anything. (Through a spokesperson, the MGCB declined to comment on the situation.)

“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?’” Land told the Free Press.

For her part, Ezell added, “I just want my damn money.”