SW Legal studies in Business

Misinterpretation of Contract Law Negates Commission Finding
Description

Mississippi high court held that a decision of a state commission could not stand because it improperly interpreted contract law that governed the dispute in question. While deference is given to administrative commissions, their decisions can be overturned if they are contrary to law.

Topic Administrative Law
Key Words

Gaming Commission, Jackpot

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Eash was playing a slot machine at Imperial Palace Casino in Mississippi when she hit the jackpot. The machine indicated that she won $1 million. However, a sign on the front of the machine stated that the maximum jackpot was $8,000. A study of the machine indicated that the programmer from IGT, who set up the machines, incorrectly programmed it for a $1 million possible prize instead of the $8,000 prize as stated. Imperial said it would only pay $8,000. Eash complained to the Mississippi Gaming Commission. It held that Eash was entitled to $1 million. Imperial appealed to the Circuit Court. It found that the sign on the machine controlled the terms of play and reversed the Commission. Eash appealed.

Decision

Affirmed. Under Mississippi law, the decision of an agency, such as the Gaming Commission, stands unless it violates the Constitution, violates the authority of the commission, was made upon unlawful procedure, was unsupported by evidence, or was arbitrary or capricious or otherwise not in accordance with law. The decision prejudiced the rights of Imperial. Under contract law, rules and instructions on permanent signage on the slot machine, rather than information displayed electronically on the machine when it hit a winning combination, determined the patron’s jackpot possibilities. When Eash put money in the machine, she was bound by the terms stated on the front of the machine. Secondary, electronic indicators, such as a flashing sign, do not negate the terms of the gambling contract.

Citation

Eash v. Imperial Palace of Mississippi, ---So.2d--- (2009 WL 331615, Sup. Ct., Miss., 2009)

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