But casino surveillance footage tells a different story.
There’s a harsh truth to any form of gambling: the house always wins. But sometimes there’s a bit of a gray zone that only a court can decide. That’s pretty much what happened to Merida Manipoun, who won a 600 -hp Aston Martin Vantage GT (probably a 2015 model, pictured here) at the Viejas Casino and Resort in Alpine, California in May 2016. She has since sued the Aston Martin dealership in San Diego that took part in the promotion for fraud, conspiracy and breach-of-contract, according to . So, what happened exactly?
Manipoun claims she spent a lot of money playing the casino’s slot machines in the hope of doing so would increase the chances of her name being drawn to win the car. The casino teamed up with the Aston Martin dealer for the promotion.
When her name was ultimately drawn, she says following the congratulations ceremony and publicity photos, she was escorted into a back room and subjected to a high-pressure sales pitch” in an effort to persuade her to “forego her entitlement to the car" and to accept minimal cash compensation instead “on the apparent theory that would afford her appreciable tax benefits.”
However, Manipoun refused to give up on claiming the car and when she went to the Aston Martin dealership to pick it up, the employees didn’t have the necessary paperwork done proving the car was hers. To make matters worse, Manipoun may still be hit with a tax liability based on the supercar’s value. At least that’s her version of what happened.
The dealership, however, says she "failed to identify any evidence that supports her fraud claim against the casino and the dealership," said its lawyer, Phillip Samouris. "She admitted at her recent deposition that the dealership and the casino employees made no substantive statements to her, let alone any fraudulent statements.” But there’s more: the dealership has surveillance footage proving Manipoun broke the rule requiring participants to use the casino’s loyalty club card. How so? Only Manipoun, the card’s holder, could use it while gambling there.
Instead, surveillance shows her “companion… playing on her casino rewards card in clear violation of the casino’s rules, thereby improperly gaining entries in the drawing.” The dealership’s lawyer also added his client was not involved in the disqualification decision and that dealerships only make money in promotions such as this when a car was actually given away. So why doesn’t Manipoun sue the casino instead of the dealership? She can’t because the casino is tribal-owned and protected by immunity laws. A judge has already declined to dismiss the case on procedural grounds, but the dealership's lawyer will now ask to have the suit dismissed because it's baseless.