What seemed like just a normal visit to the Gold Eagle Casino turned into “the best day ever” for Saskatoon resident Debbie Vidal.
Vidal ended up hitting the jackpot on the Smoke Signals slot machine she was playing on Monday afternoon. The amount of her winnings: $1,333,974.82.
On Thursday, Vidal was back at Gold Eagle Casino to claim her prize at an announcement attended by her family and representatives from Gold Eagle Casino and the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority.
Vidal said she and her husband came up to North Battleford to meet her parents, who live in Makwa, and to have lunch and play a few games at the casino.
As she recalled, she had enjoyed lunch at the casino and then at around 3:30 p.m. decided to check out the progressive Smoke Signals machines, saying, “They’re calling my name.”
Her premonition turned out to be accurate. Five spins later, a message suddenly flashed across the screen that the machine had been “disabled by the host,” and that she had won $1.3 million.
Her initial reaction was “disbelief,” she said.
“I actually thought the machine had broken,” Vidal said about the moment she hit the jackpot.
Even now, it has not hit her that she is now Saskatchewan’s newest millionaire.
“It still doesn’t feel real,” said Vidal, who said it won’t feel real until she “actually has that money in my account.”
Smoke Signals has been the signature game for the SIGA casinos in the province. They are a progressive jackpot with machines networked across all the SIGA locations throughout Saskatchewan.
About five years ago, the Smoke Signals games were revamped and prize levels were increased. The games were also redesigned as a “mystery” progressive so that “any spin can win.”
At the top end, the Smoke Signals machines are programmed to pay out at some point between $1 million and $2 million dollars.
“We really designed Smoke Signals from day one to be that life-changing event for our customers,” said SIGA president Zane Hansen.
“When we can put together a big prize like this and give back, it’s a lot of fun. We wish them the best.”
Overall, there have been 12 big Smoke Signals winners at SIGA’s casinos. In the top tier category Hansen estimates they have paid out $18 million; including all three tiers of prizes the amount paid out comes to around $40 million.
According to Gold Eagle Casino general manager Kelly Atcheynum, this is the second time a Smoke Signals winner has claimed the big prize at North Battleford; the last time was 2016.
“We’re happy to show that we do have winners here in North Battleford, too,” said Atcheynum. “And you can win at any seven of our sites.”
As for what Vidal plans to spend the money on, she said she plans to splurge on a couple of snowmobiles.