What’s it like to win big?

Nov 7, 2005 1:09 AM

Ever wonder what it’s like to hit one of those huge, life-altering mega-jackpots? Here’s the likely scenario.

Imagine yourself playing Wheel of Fortune, Megabucks or another of IGT’s MegaJackpots games in a Las Vegas casino.

You’ve played the maximum number of credits, you push the button — or pull the handle — and the game is in motion”¦click, click, click”¦and the winning symbols line up on the payline.

According to reports from previous winners, time seems to stand still as you slowly realize that”¦yes, you’ve won. Holy cow, you’ve really won!

Five hundred miles to the north, in the IGT Reno MegaJackpots operations room, the lineup of the game’s symbols triggers first an alarm and then, a few seconds later, an advisory that a primary jackpot has been recorded on the system.

Generated by the computers that monitor the 7,800 or so MegaJackpots machines scattered throughout the state, the advisory tells the 24-hour monitoring staff which game you were playing, as well as the time, location and amount of your jackpot.

Back in Las Vegas, the casino staff has, perhaps, offered you a quiet place to sit and relax. They are excited, too, and are finding it hard to resist the impulse to offer congratulations. While all outward signs indicate that you have won a significant amount of money, your win is not yet "official" and congratulations not yet in order.

Nevada gaming regulations require a verification process in which IGT technicians thoroughly inspect the machine’s internal systems to insure that the machine is working properly and the jackpot is legitimate.

In Reno, the operations people are on the phone calling the technicians who will arrive shortly to inspect your machine. They also notify a jackpot response representative who — once your jackpot is official — will present you with various documents to sign. The representative will also give you a check.

In the case of a MegaJackpots Instant Winners game, the check will be for the full amount of your jackpot (IGT does not withhold taxes). If you were playing an annuity game, the check will represent the first annual installment.

In the course of verifying that a jackpot is legitimate, the IGT technician will check the candle (the light on top of the machine), compare various game programs, and compare machine readings to the information originally received at the Reno Operations center.

Once your jackpot is verified, congratulations are in order, and completing the paperwork brought by the jackpot response rep is ready to begin.

You will be asked to present two forms of identification and give your current address, phone and employment information so IGT can reach you later.

If you have won an annuity game, you’ll definitely want to keep IGT current on your address to receive the annual check on the anniversary date of your big win. In most cases, IGT does not withhold state or federal taxes, but you are required to sign an W-2G form reporting your winnings, which will be filed with the IRS.

The paperwork usually takes less than an hour and voila!, you are presented with your check. If you opt to deposit it immediately — which is recommended — you’re provided with a phone number for an IGT specialist who will verify to your bank that the check is legitimate.

A few days after your jackpot, an IGT representative will be in touch to finalize a few follow-up steps but, essentially, you are done. Now comes the fun part — living the rest of your life as a lucky MegaJackpots winner.