The lighter side of The News: so many wins; the Bills make me want to cry; Tears of Buffalo Place | Business premises

North Carolina resident Kevin Whitlock is a lucky man – in more ways than one.

A visitor to the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino in Niagara Falls on April 1, Whitlock downloaded $1 in free slot games, a perk of signing up for a Social Club card, said Seneca Niagara spokesman Phil Pantano.

Whitlock then placed a minimum bet of 88 cents on the 888 Fortunes slot machine and tried to figure out how to play the Bally Technologies game which is a casino standard. He pressed a few buttons before stepping away from the machine, Pantano said, a general sign that the gamer didn’t quite get the game.

As a Seneca Niagara attendant soon discovered, Whitlock had activated a bonus feature and collected some grand prize coins. The payout was $11,644, among the highest possible jackpots in the game, but Whitlock was no longer around to claim his winnings.

Casino staff worked over the weekend to identify Whitlock, then Slots Manager Suzi Duchene contacted him – as he was unpacking his luggage after his trip back home to Harrisburg, in North Carolina.

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At first suspicious that it was an April Fool’s joke, Whitlock’s wife, Lisha, called the casino to verify that her husband had won.

Assured it was no trick – and what a cruel trick it would have been – the Whitlocks recently returned to Niagara Falls to claim their winnings. The casino employees were applauded for their investigative skills by Kevin Nephew, President and CEO of Seneca Gaming, and the Whitlocks walked away with winnings they hadn’t expected.

The NBC show “This is Us” is known for bringing viewers to tears — perhaps more so this week for Buffalo Bills fans with long memories.

In the episode titled “The Night Before the Wedding,” Randall (Sterling K. Brown) gave a history lesson about the Bills that inspired his brother Kevin (Justin Pearson) to return to the arms of the woman he he married as a teenager and soon divorced him after cheating on her.

As Kevin wondered if he belonged to the girl he met in elementary school, Randall gave him some wisdom regarding the Bills and their four straight Super Bowl losses. He said Buffalo merchandise made in case the Bills won in those years was sent to African and Asian countries and countries around the world that needed the apparel.

“So for four straight years in the early ’90s, Buffalo Bills merchandise flooded into other countries,” Randall said. “There are tens of thousands of people who think the Buffalo Bills are the best team ever.”

“The world is completely crazy. It does not mean anything. But you and Sophie together – that makes more sense than most things. You’re not going to ruin everything this time. I know.”

There might be a motto for 2022 bills somewhere.

You can’t lose to win

Buffalo Place President Keith Belanger can’t win.

When board treasurer Barbara Danner this week presented an updated financial report for the nonprofit that manages the city’s downtown business district, board members noted that this group had not had to borrow money from their line of credit in some time.

Indeed, aside from the revenue and expense schedule, the group is in good financial shape and does not need additional capital.

He had enough extra money to buy a new Bobcat for snow removal, two new Gator utility vehicles and a new John Deere tractor. And he’s upgrading the banners on Main Street and bringing in an electrical contractor to check out some of the streetlights. “Our finances are pretty good and that has allowed us to consider other things,” said Bélanger.

That’s not necessarily what M&T Bank — the organization’s lender and Belanger’s employer — would want to hear, since banks depend on loans to generate interest income.

“Look, Keith is crying,” joked board member Rocco Termini.

To which Bélanger retorted: “Yeah, but do you remember when a few years ago when we had to borrow a lot of money? I was also crying at that time.