June 28, 2024 3 min read


Fact-checked by Stoyan Todorov

Blackjack Win Leads to Unexpected Jackpot Denial at MGM Grand Detroit

On October 30, 2023, Denise Ezell placed a side bet on a blackjack game and received a hand that turned out to be a winner

Denise Ezell, a woman from Michigan, is suing MGM Grand Detroit after they refused to pay her a $127,000 jackpot she had won playing progressive blackjack. The 65-year-old has been gambling at the casino for more than two decades and filed a complaint in the US District Court Eastern District of Michigan asking for the jackpot along with $75,000 in damages.

Jackpot Winner Denied Prize Due to Trespassing Allegations

On October 30, 2023, Denise Ezell said she was at the casino with a friend when she decided to play some progressive blackjack. She put down a side bet and was dealt what would be the winning hand—a straight flush with a Jack and King of Spades against the dealer’s Ace and Queen of Spades. The table erupted when Ezell’s win was announced, reported the Detroit Free Press.

But then things took an unexpected turn. A pit boss came over and asked for her ID before walking away for a moment. When he returned, he told her she would not be getting any money—she was trespassing. She did not understand how that could be possible because she had been coming to MGM Grand all these years without an issue.

The allegation that she had trespassed stemmed from an incident in 2015 when Ezell got into an argument with her cousin about money at one of the blackjack tables. According to her account, it was all just one big misunderstanding but casino security still kicked her out after interpreting their dispute as solicitation during which time they told her that the ban could last anywhere between 24-48 hours but did not give any kind of official notice so she kept coming back year after year thinking everything was fine.

Attorney Criticizes MGM Grand for Withholding Jackpot from Longtime Gambler

Over the next few days, Ezell said she tried working it out through different people in MGM Grand’s security department but got mixed messages about where things stood—an employee initially assured her she would get paid then later communication seemed to indicate the matter had gone past that person’s authority, leaving Ezell without her jackpot.

Ivan Land, Ezell’s attorney, has expressed his frustration with what the casino did. He said that they were okay accepting her money for almost a decade but when she wins this much, they refuse to pay out the jackpot on weak grounds. Land does not understand the casino’s inconsistency as no one told Ezell about any long-term bans and she was allowed to keep gambling there until winning a big prize.

Land also pointed out how devastating both financially and emotionally not getting paid has been for his client. Ezell works for Michigan’s state government and has been helping put her daughter through medical school so an extra $127,000 could have helped a great deal.

Ezell argued that the casino’s actions were not only unfair but also damaging, as they led her to believe she would receive the money, only to retract the promise later.MGM Grand Detroit has not given any comment yet since it claims it has not received notice about the suit yet.


Silvia has dabbled in all sorts of writing – from content writing for social media to movie scripts. She has a Bachelor's in Screenwriting and experience in marketing and producing documentary films. With her background as a customer support agent within the gambling industry, she brings valuable insight to the Gambling News writers’ team.

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