Michigan Woman Sues MGM Grand Detroit Over $127K Blackjack Jackpot Dispute

Michigan woman suing MGM Grand Detroit
Share on Social

A Michigan woman who won a $127,000 jackpot playing progressive blackjack at MGM Grand Detroit is suing the casino after it refused to pay out, instead accusing her of “trespassing.” Despite being a regular player at the casino for over 20 years, Denise Ezell, 65, was denied her winnings and escorted off the property.

The Winning Hand and Jackpot Dispute

Denise Ezell visited the casino on October 30 last year with a friend to play at the progressive blackjack tables. This game allows players to place a side bet, hoping their two cards will combine with the dealer’s to trigger a jackpot. On the hand in question, Ezell held the jack and king of spades, while the dealer showed the ace and queen of spades, forming a four-card straight flush that qualified for a significant payout.

“It was exuberating,” Ezell told The Detroit Free Press. “We were high-fiving … The dealer – he was excited. So were people around me. No one had ever seen anyone win that jackpot.”

Trespassing Allegation

However, when Ezell provided her driver’s license as identification, casino management informed her that she wouldn’t be paid because she was trespassing on the property. Instead, she was asked to leave.

It turns out that Ezell had been banned from the casino in 2015 after being accused of “panhandling.” Ezell claims this incident was a misunderstanding. She had been arguing with her cousin, who had refused to lend her some cash when she started losing, which was their usual arrangement when gambling together. Casino security, however, thought she was pestering a stranger for money, according to the lawsuit.

As she left in 2015, Ezell asked the security guard how long the ban would last and was told “maybe 24 or 48 hours,” the lawsuit states. She received no notification from the casino by email, phone, letter, or text message that she was not welcome on the property.

In the meantime, Ezell has been back hundreds of times, and the casino was always happy to take her money, she says.

Casino’s Response and Lawsuit

In the days following her “win,” Ezell called the casino and spoke to an employee who reassured her, saying, “Don’t worry about them saying you were trespassing, we are going to get you your jackpot,” according to the lawsuit. However, when the employee called her back, he explained the matter had escalated “beyond his paygrade.”

Ezell expressed her frustration, saying, “I just thought when you won, they would pay you. When you lose, they take your damn money.”

When contacted by The Detroit Free Press, MGM Grand Detroit stated it had not yet been formally served with the lawsuit and could not comment on the matter. Ezell described the casino’s reason for not paying the jackpot as “bull***t.”


The case of Denise Ezell against MGM Grand Detroit highlights the potential complexities and disputes that can arise in the casino industry. As Ezell seeks legal recourse to claim her $127K jackpot, the outcome could have implications for how casinos handle similar situations in the future. The incident underscores the importance of clear communication and policies between casinos and their patrons.