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Judge Issues Ruling That Games Are Slot Machines

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Posted: Friday, July 14, 2017 12:37 pm

Siding with state regulators, a Leon County circuit judge has issued a formal decision finding that certain electronic games offered in bars and other establishments are illegal slot machines.

Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper issued the eight-page decision Monday, after announcing last month that he would rule in favor of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation's Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco.

Cooper's decision reversed a ruling he made in March that the disputed devices, known as "pre-reveal" games, were not illegal slot machines. In Monday's decision, Cooper said the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which supported state regulators in the case, submitted information June 6 "citing to a number of cases from other jurisdictions that had not previously been brought to the court's attention."

He also wrote that the machines involve "games of chance" that provide players with an opportunity to win money. "So long as the user may be entitled to a reward based upon an element of chance or unpredictable outcome --- regardless of when that outcome is generated or made known --- the statutory definition of a slot machine is satisfied," Cooper wrote.

The electronic games known as "Version 67," are produced by Blue Sky Games and leased by Jacksonville-based Gator Coin Inc. The businesses sued the state after investigators with the Division of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms alleged the machines were effectively slot machines. In originally siding with the businesses in March,

Cooper found that the machines didn't violate prohibitions against slots because the games include a "preview" feature advising players of the outcome "before the player commits any money to the game by activating the 'play' button."

But in reversing himself in Monday's decision, Cooper agreed with testimony that people pay to play losing games with the hopes of winning in subsequent games. "Because each game unlocks the opportunity to play subsequent games, the outcomes of which are unknowable at the time the first game is played, and because subsequent games offer the user an opportunity to receive something of value, the machines are slot machines within the meaning (of state law)," Cooper wrote.

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