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Judge sympathizes with woman denied her jackpot at Seneca Niagara Casino

Niagara Falls City Judge Robert P. Merino seems to think it was unfair for Seneca Niagara Casino to deny a $1,400 jackpot to a Canadian woman last month. She was instead charged with trespassing, and that's why she appeared before him on Monday.

Pasqua DiGianni about two years earlier voluntarily barred herself from the casino, and that's why the casino denied her the slot machine payout when she gambled and won in April.

"Sounds like you ought to consult with an attorney," Merino told the Woodbridge, Ont., woman.

Merino adjourned her trespassing case in contemplation of dismissal. The charge will be thrown out if she stays out of trouble for the next six months - including staying out of the casino.

DiGianni doubts she will take the judge's advice to pursue the matter.

"I just want to put an end to it," she said outside his courtroom.

She also said she's giving up gambling.

Merino accepted the recommendation for dismissal from City Prosecutor Christopher M. Mazur.

DiGianni's recital of the facts of the case won over the courtroom audience.

She received an appearance ticket from Niagara Falls police after winning $1,400 on a slot machine at the casino April 15.

DiGianni on May 28, 2015, signed a document voluntarily barring herself from the casino, a move she made after winning a $50,000 slot machine payout - and then losing most of it on subsequent trips to Seneca Niagara.

The casino sent her a letter last year, saying that she could apply for reinstatement, but she never did. The casino's policy allows people to bar themselves from the premises, but it also says if they return, they are liable to arrest and will be denied any winnings.

DiGianni's husband Mike said that about 10 years ago, he and his wife signed themselves out of a Toronto-area casino, won a $25,000 jackpot on a subsequent visit and were allowed to keep the money. Police were not involved, he said.

But at Seneca Niagara, Pasqua was charged with trespassing and denied her $1,400 jackpot, although a police report said the casino refunded $600 she pumped into the slot machine before winning.

"You mean they had you arrested instead of giving you the jackpot?" the judge asked.

"That's disrespect," a spectator called out from the audience.

"That's messed up," another spectator said.

"It sounds like you're a better gambler than I am," Merino told DiGianni. "My idea of gambling is, I open the front door of the casino, I throw in a $100 bill and I go home. I save a lot of money that way."

But DiGianni vowed never to open the door of Seneca Niagara or any other casino again.

"Believe me, I'm done," she told a reporter.

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