After legal victories in Pennsylvania, where judges found slot-like games of skill legal while law enforcement officials were criticized for confiscating them and the cash they contained without reason, the same types of games are still being targeted in the state of Kentucky.
After failing to pass legislation a year ago that would have banned gambling, the House of Representatives introduced another bill Friday that attempted to define them as gaming devices, but returned to the word Wednesday, gathering momentum to move to pass a vote of 64. – 32
House Speaker David Osborne moved Wednesday to resume discussion about it House bill 594 after defenders of the so-called gray machines celebrated rumors of their disappearance over the weekend.
Skill games are currently legal
Kentucky law does not directly deal with games based on Elements of the player’s ability to award prizes, which puts them in a gray area of gambling unless the bill reaches the governor’s desk and gets his signature or a veto is overridden. The bill went to the Senate for deliberation as this year’s legislative session draws to a close.
Most of the “work” to pass the law appears to have taken place behind the scenes, as there was very little discussion in the House of Representatives before lawmakers voted 2-1 to approve the machines found in hundreds of locations across the state to disallow.
Chairman Osborne said in a statement after the House of Representatives passed the bill: “Today’s vote in the House of Representatives sends a clear message that there is no place for gaming companies that are circumventing the law to flood Kentucky with unregulated casino gaming without limitation or regulation.” according to local reports.
The representatives of Kentucky Merchants and Amusement Coalitionone of the organizations that campaigned for the law not to go into effect expressed disappointment with the action, calling the development “unfortunate” after “so many small business owners in Kentucky have reached out to their legislators the benefits of skill games.”
The group’s president, Wes Jackson, said in a statement: “We hope our Senate supporters end this dangerous prohibition bill and put the needs of real Kentuckians first, not the profits of big business.”
Official Lottery is afraid of reduced sales
One of the most powerful opponents of the machines is the Kentucky State Lottery, which claims that games of skill eat away at their sales. Established in 1989, the lottery is said to have contributed more than $4.4 billion to education in Kentucky.
The Louisville WDRB reports that of every dollar staked in the lottery, 27 cents goes to the Commonwealth for college scholarships and scholarship programs, six cents is shared with retailers, six cents is spent on “administrative expenses,” and 61 cents are reimbursed to winners. It’s not clear if selling infrastructure like bridges will help the Kentucky Lottery Corporation make ends meet.
Machine advocates have lobbied for regulation of the machines being introduced in several states and Mike Barley, director of public affairs for the skill-based game developer Pace-O-Matic said last week:Our legal skill games serve as an important lifeline for small businesses with fraternity clubs. They provide these facilities with consistent, reliable and additional income when they need it most.”
Lottery officials say there are more than 1,500 of the machines at locations where the Kentucky Lottery sells its products.
It’s not clear if lottery sales have increased along with other forms of gambling in Kentucky, as has happened in most states The economy has come back to life after a break due to the pandemic. Other states with commercial gambling and skill slot machines spread throughout the territory, like Pennsylvania, have seen record gambling revenues. Self Nevada reported record revenue in January after an unprecedented year in which the private sector is working hard to sate the appetites of a population with rapidly changing opinions on gambling.
A speaker for Kentuckians Against Illegal Gambling said in a statement: “Passing HB594 is the only safe and viable option to prevent every restaurant, gas station and supermarket in the state from becoming a mini-casino.”
Osborne’s party has a large majority in both chambers of Congress, so even a veto by the Democratic Kentucky governor is unlikely to help proponents of the machine much.
Spring: Proposal to ban slot machines clears Kentucky HouseAP News, March 8, 2023