New Jersey woman wins $1.3M playing Internet slots; Jackpot is state's largest online prize

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ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey — A Morris County woman has won New Jersey's largest Internet gambling jackpot, a $1.3 million payout from an online slots game.

Cathy Ruela was playing the "Millionaire Genie" game on the Harrahscasino.com site on Nov. 6 when the genie on her computer screen broke open the chains on a treasure chest and a box popped up, announcing she had won a jackpot of more than $1.3 million.

"I'd always play $20 here, $20 there," she said. "I was betting and betting, and all of a sudden I hit the jackpot! It was pretty amazing. It was late at night. The $1.3 million amount came to what I had won; I was trying to read the decimal point, but the number was too big to fit. I called my husband and said, 'What does 1, 3, 3, 4, 6, 4, 1 mean?' He said, 'You won more than a million dollars!' "

The 31-year-old says she has been playing sporadically since February. She used to visit Atlantic City two or three times a year before she started playing online, attracted to try it by a promotional coupon mailed to her home offering 20 free spins.

The jackpot came just before the anniversary of Internet gambling in New Jersey, one of three states where it's legal. Online gambling began Nov. 25, 2013, as a way to help Atlantic City's struggling casinos gain new customers and revenue, but it has gotten off to a slow start, bringing in only 10 percent of the $1 billion state officials initially expected in its first year.

Ruela's jackpot was the first seven-figure online prize in New Jersey, and the third-largest prize won by a gambler in the state this year, including Internet and land-based casinos.

Her family will use the money to pay off their mortgage, set up a college fund for their son, and go on a winter vacation.

"It's going to be a great Christmas for our family," she said.


Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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