Air Force Reservist Helps Arizona Man With Over $229K Slot Jackpot Payout

Written By C.J. Pierre on May 10, 2022 - Last Updated on January 30, 2023

An Arizona man hit it big in Las Vegas.

But there were a lot of hoops that needed to be jumped through before he was able to get his hands on his major payday.

In fact, it took the help of a member of the U.S. Air Force to reel in the winnings. It will likely turn into one heckuva story.

Another example of what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas.

Slot Machine error nearly costs AZ man $229K

Back in January, Robert Taylor and his family were celebrating his brother’s recent graduation from the University of Arizona. Instead of checking any of the Arizona Casinos, they decided to make the trip from the Grand Canyon State to Las Vegas.

Taylor decided to go to the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino to give the slot machines a whirl during the trip. After about 10 minutes of playing, Taylor’s machine briefly showed that he might have won a progressive jackpot. However, the machine then stated that there was an error, and he was prompted to call for an attendant.

Progressive slot machines are networked to other machines and offer bigger payouts than standalone slots. This particular machine was linked to several slots in Nevada and other states and was connected to a remote server.

After about an hour, a slot machine technician could not figure out the problem. Treasure Island eventually gave Taylor some cash for his troubles to resolve the matter. However, they did not get his name or any contact information.

A few days later, the slot machine manufacturer determined that Taylor’s machine did, in fact, hit on a progressive jackpot of $229,368.52. They also say a problem with the server blocked the payout.

Because they did not get any contact info, the casino was unable to determine the identity of the winning player. The case was turned over to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Air Force Reservist from Arizona called in to help investigate

The Nevada Gaming Control Board’s technology division and forensics lab started working with the casino and the slot manufacturer to try and find the lucky winner. Agent Dan Nuqui was also brought in on the case.

Maj. Nuqui is an individual mobilization augmentee assigned to the 355th Security Forces Squadron, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. He says he didn’t have much to go on.

“The Taylors had not used any credit cards at Treasure Island, so basically all we had was some surveillance video from inside the casino and an outside distant pixelated shot of them going to a neighboring property,” Nuqui said in a release from the Air Force.

However, that grainy video showing an SUV would be the clue that helped break the case. Nuqui made a call to the Nevada Transportation Authority they figured out that the SUV was probably an Uber or Lyft vehicle.

Several days after contacting both ride-share companies, Uber responded, saying the vehicle was probably one of theirs.

As Nuqui said:

“Unfortunately, Uber would not give me the rider’s name without a warrant or subpoena. We were quickly approaching 30 days since the jackpot was hit and getting the money in the winner’s hands is much harder after that 30‑day window, so I begged Uber to reach out to the rider and ask him to get in touch with me. I gave them my e-mail, cell phone, everything and hoped that the person would call.”

The $229K phone call

After not hearing anything for a few days, Nuqui reached out to Uber again and asked them to once again give his contact information to the rider.

Eventually, he got a call.

“Robert’s father called me and said he thought the whole thing was a scam,” Nuqui said. “I gave him all of my credentials and I finally convinced the dad to tell his son to give me a call. A couple of hours later, Robert called me and I got to tell him about his good luck.”

Taylor eventually went back to Las Vegas to collect the money. There he got to meet the man that went above and beyond to make sure he got his money.

“He was extremely grateful and just kept saying, ‘I can’t believe you guys found me,’” Nuqui said.

Nuqui says he ran into many roadblocks during his investigation, but he never once thought about throwing in the towel.

As he said:

“That would have been the easy thing to do – to say ‘I tried, but I just can’t track this guy down,’ but it all goes back to the core values we’re taught in the military. It comes down to doing the right thing, even when nobody is looking. I kept putting myself in this person’s shoes and I knew I had to keep searching until I found him.”

Photo by Air Force Reserve Command
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C.J. Pierre

CJ Pierre is a multimedia journalist currently residing in the Phoenix-Metro Area in Arizona. He has been covering news and sports for over a decade for both online and TV broadcasts. He was born and raised in Minneapolis and an alum of Minnesota State University: Moorhead. CJ has experience as a reporter and videographer and has covered high school, college and professional sports throughout his career. Most notably following Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Vikings and North Dakota State University football.

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