Woman sues Rivers Casino over $25K denied prize

Attorney says contest rules did not stipulate winner had to be present to claim prize after drawing
The entrance to the Rivers Casino & Resort is seen in this file photo.
The entrance to the Rivers Casino & Resort is seen in this file photo.

SCHENECTADY — An Albany County woman is suing Rivers Casino & Resort, saying it wrongly denied her the prize after she won a promotional drawing for a new Jaguar or $25,000.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Deanna Dipofi in state Supreme Court, Schenectady County, nearly a year after the July 22, 2017, drawing at the heart of the matter. The lawsuit names as defendants Rivers; parent corporation Rush Street Gaming; and Rush Street Gaming Partners. It seeks payment of the prize, plus legal fees.

Rivers wouldn’t discuss the matter for this story. A spokeswoman said Thursday: “We cannot comment on pending litigation.”

Dipofi is represented by Alan Ripka & Associates, a Manhattan law firm. Ripka said he is expecting a legal response from Rivers Casino & Resort soon.

He said the matter is straightforward: Rivers advertised a series of drawings to be held at the riverfront casino; Dipofi had earned entries for the “Jaguar XE Giveaway” by using her Rush Rewards Players Club Cards, and she was chosen the winner, the legal papers say. But she wasn’t present when her name was announced as the winner, so the prize went to someone else.

For the other drawings, Ripka said, Rivers indicated in promotional material that the prize would be reduced if the winner was not present to claim it at the time of the drawing. But for the big drawing — the new Jaguar or $25,000 — there was no asterisk, no restriction placed on the winner’s presence.

So not only did the casino not put a condition on claiming the prize, it demonstrated that it knew such a condition needed to be be clearly stated, Ripka said, adding that there’s no alternative legal interpretation here.

“That’s the bottom line for the case,” he said. “To me, this is summary judgement.”

He said casinos deny prizes with some frequency.

Ripka and another client grabbed national attention last year when he brought a lawsuit against the Resorts World Casino in Queens: The video slot machine she’d been playing informed the plaintiff that she’d just won $42.95 million. But a facility employee told her the message was in error, and offered her $2.25 and a steak dinner instead. 

“There is a lot of this all over the country,” he said. “They think these people have no recourse.”

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