How these new gaming machines skirt Kentucky’s gambling laws

“We hope it’ll give someone something to do when they come in to drink a beer.”
Skill or chance? New gaming machines in NKY have people asking questions
Published: Jun. 17, 2021 at 10:06 PM EDT
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CRESCENT SPRINGS, Ky. (WXIX) - Some Northern Kentucky businesses are getting around the state’s prohibition on gaming machines by making a small tweak to the machines themselves.

Ordinary gaming machines are driven by chance. You pull a lever or hit a button hoping to get three in a row, and then you either win or lose.

The new gaming machines add a step. You pull a lever or hit a button hoping to get two matches, and if you do, then you manually change one yourself to get three in a row.

That small change is what the manufacturer says makes the game legal in Kentucky, because now it’s a game of skill rather than chance.

That’s the rub. In Kentucky, games of chance are illegal, but games of skill are allowed.

Mike Barley is with Paceomatic, the company that makes the machines.

“There are three elements for something to be considered a gaming device in the commonwealth of Kentucky,” Barley said. “And that’s consideration—putting the money in the machine; chance—you press the button and you win or lose; and, reward—you get something back. We replaced that chance with predominant skill, which means you have to interact with the machine.”

Timothy Reese owns PeeWee’s Place in Crescent Springs. They got the machines on Wednesday. The business will get 40 percent of the revenue the machines make.

“Anything we can do to bring in customers, bring in excitement, bring in gambling, we love to do,” Reese said.

The Kentucky Department of Charitable Giving says these new machines could be challenged by state officials. Barley says they aren’t worried about it.

“We do feel very comfortable with the legality of the games,” he said.

Reese says he will be monitoring the situation to make sure they are following the rules.

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