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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Unilateral offers: No ambiguity in casino’s offer

California_flag_1 Signs around a casino slot machine constituted an offer for a unilateral contract that was accepted when the patron played the game, says the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a new unpublished decision.

The patron pulled the lever and won a $644,000 jackpot.  That created a contract between the parties, said the court.  At issue, however, were the terms.  The patron wanted to be paid the full amount up front.  The casino argued that this amount was to be paid over 25 years, pointing to a placard on the front of the machine, which said "Progressive jackpot paid in equal installments.  First installment paid upon validation of win. Balance paid in 25 annual installments."  The patron pointed to signs advertising the jackpot that made no mention of this.

Nevertheless, summary judgment was appropriate for the casino, said the court. There was no conflict between the jackpot signs and the placard; none of the jackpot signs mentioned how the payout would be made.  Since the casino had tendered the initial payment and offered a $253,000 discounted-value buyout, it was not in breach of the contract.

Semaan v. IGT, 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 4081 (9th Cir. March 8, 2005)

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