As It Happens

He walked away from a Vegas casino with $40. Turns out, he actually won the jackpot

Thanks to a technical glitch, Robert Taylor walked away from more than $229,000 he won at a slot machine at Treasure Island Casino & Hotel. It took 20 days, hundreds of hours of surveillance video and help from Uber to track him down and award him the winnings.

It took 20 days for investigators to track down the winner after the slot machine glitch

Robert Taylor won jackpot of $229,368 US on Jan. 8, but didn't get to collect his winnings until earlier this month. (Photo submitted by The Firm Public Relations & Marketing)

Story Transcript

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 'eureka moment'

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.

"That was our eureka moment," Taylor said. "We realized they had taken an Uber, and we were able to put a name to this group of people that we'd been watching on video."

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."

As It Happens was not able to reach Robert Taylor for comment. A casino spokesperson said the winner has asked for his privacy at this time.

James Taylor, left, chief investigator at the Nevada Gaming Control Board, said he and his team were 'very excited' to find the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino jackpot winner Robert Taylor. (Submitted by James Taylor)

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. 

"We are thrilled that our jackpot winner was found by the Nevada Gaming Control Board and we are happy to have awarded him his winnings on Saturday," a Treasure Island spokesperson told As It Happens in an email. 

James Taylor said he and his team at the Nevada Gaming Control Board were very excited to have found Robert.

"This is the first time that we've been called upon to find a winner, somebody who's owed money," he said. "[It] made it even more special that they were such good people."

Written by Olsy Sorokina. Interview with James Taylor produced by Niza Lyapa Nondo. 

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