According to the Louisville Courier Journal: Rep. Killian Timoney’s House Bill (594), which would ban “gray” gaming machines in Bluegrass State, passed through a House Committee with 13 “yes” votes and 7 “no” votes on Thursday evening.
After an hour-long heated debate in which fervent Kentuckians Against Illegal Gambling and Merchants and Amusement Coalition members reunited, the eagerly awaited committee substitute for HB Bill594 was approved.
What does this mean for Kentucky?
The bill was presented to the Committee on Committees on Feb 22. It was then read for the first time two days later.
The bill was read again on March 3.
Timoney’s requested that KRS 528.010 be amended to clarify terms such as “coin-operated entertainment machine”, “skill game”, “skill”, “skill-based contests” and “gambling”, “advancing gambling activity”, “gambling device” and “something else of value.”
KRS 528.100 was also amended to allow the Attorney General, Commonwealth’s attorney in any locality or county attorney for every locality to impose a civil penalty not exceeding $25,000 for each device that is “conducted, finances, manages or directs such a device.” This would be a direct violation KRS Chapter 528.
Particularly, anyone who continues to offer games made by Pace-O-Matic or Prominent Technologies after the deadline has expired will be subject to a $25,000.
Timoney noted that the amended bill did not prohibit popular games at state or county fairs or businesses such as Dave & Buster’s, Chuck E. Cheese and others who offer prizes to participants.
Opponents Say The Ban Will Hurt Small Businesses
In recent years, the state has seen an increase in video games that offer cash payouts, such as bars, gas stations, and clubs.
Their opponents claim that these machines are an expanded form illegal gambling. However, the supporters of the games they call “skill games”, claim that the ban will destabilize small businesses who rely on the income generated from players.
Mark Guilfoyle, executive director of KAIG, stated that if the legislation to ban these games is not passed, their numbers could rise to as high as 50,000 in the state. This could lead to more violent crimes, and a rise in “mini-casinos” popping up at every corner across the state.
Mike Barley, Pace-O-Matic spokesperson, described the legislation as “picking winners or losers” given Churchill Downs’ growing profits and the slot machines installed at its HR facilities.
Bob Heleringer, a supporter for Prominent Technologies’ skill games maker, explained that the horse racing industry wants to “crush small businesses” and create a monopoly.
Timoney stated that the bill had received majority support from the 80-member GOP supermajority and had also garnered sufficient votes from his party to pass the Kentucky General Assembly.
Rep. Michael Meredith introduced House Bill 551 in February to make sports betting legal in Massachusetts.