Some Ontario casino wins just mean more.
And, for Marcelo Loyola, who recently hit a $3.2 million jackpot at Casino Woodbine, all the credit goes to his late girlfriend.
On April 5, a mere three days after his 50th birthday, the Toronto-based contractor lost his long-time partner suddenly. Grieving her loss, the Casino Woodbine regular thought to visit the place where the couple shared countless fond memories.
“She always went upstairs to play the slots, and I would go downstairs to play the tables,” he told Great Canadian Entertainment, the company that operates Casino Woodbine. “We were always there together, and the past couple of weeks have been really hard.”
But something about that day just felt different for Loyola.
“I just felt her spirit in me, so I went upstairs to play the slots, even though as a table games player I never do that.”
The winning move came right from her playbook
Over the course of their playing days, the pair would see the jackpot building, but never thought they’d take it home.
After striking out a few times on different slot games, he decided to try his hand at her favourite game. She had an interesting way of playing; one that didn’t necessarily mesh with Loyola’s vision for success, but it was her way and she enjoyed it.
“Rather than waiting for the wheels to stop naturally, she would press the button to stop the machine mid-spin in an attempt for the three ‘Jackpot’ icons to line up.
“I would always say to her, don’t play it like that, just let it spin. But I felt her with me that night, so I played it like she did.”
There it was. The flashing lights and ‘ding-ding-ding’ sound that up until that moment, had been nothing more than a ‘what-if.’
Onlookers and casino staff gathered around the awestricken Loyola, who, over the years, had become a familiar face and friend to many.
“A lot of people at Casino Woodbine know us, and they knew she had just passed away. They were giving me their condolences, and at the same time they were also congratulating me,” he said. “It’s just an incredibly emotional story and it’s hard for me to tell it. But I know for a fact she was there with me. It can’t be a coincidence.”
Whether by fate, extraordinary luck, or a pinch of both, the winning spin had Loyola’s girlfriend’s fingerprints all over it.
Winnings will help Loyola keep her legacy alive
The $3.2 million pot is life-changing money for most people and while Loyola is “super happy about winning,” the feeling is still bittersweet.
He wishes she could have been there to bask in the glory and astonishment of a moment they had spoken about so often.
“She would have been overjoyed,” he said. “She loved the casino and she loved to win.”
The beauty of Loyola’s story is that it doesn’t end when he walks out the sliding doors at Casino Woodbine. Thanks to the handsome multi-million-dollar payday, Loyola can honour his girlfriend’s legacy by prioritizing family.
Beyond investing some of the winnings, he plans on purchasing a new home for his parents and visiting his brother in British Columbia.
“I want to take care of the people I love,” he said. “My girlfriend and I took care of each other. I loved her so much. She would be so happy.”