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Arcades, authorities at odds


The Colorado Skill Games and Entertainment Association, a group including business owners and others advocating for what they call skill-games arcades, has made the argument several times since October that its games are no different from those at Chuck E. Cheese’s or Dave and Buster’s.

“Why are coin-pusher machines or fish-arcade games illegal in a smaller arcade, but A-OK in larger entertainment centers according to the CBI and Division of Gaming?” said Chris Howes, executive director for the association, in a January news release.

Fox 31 reported May 10 on games at La Fortuna arcade, which offered what resembled slot machines.

Players won money by pushing a “spin” button and having three icons match up on a screen, the report said, but they only had influence over the icons in the third column — only if the first two matched up by chance could players move the third up or down one spot with their finger. Other games performed similarly to the one described as requiring matching icons, the report said.

The association disputed that story as misleading and said players have the chance to win 100 percent of the time if they’re able to complete a correct pattern — icons don’t have to line up as identical, said Meg Dubray, public-relations representative for the association. The game explains how to play and lays out patterns before someone plays, Dubray said to Colorado Community Media.

A filing in a district-court case involving Trey Franzoy, an association member, said Franzoy’s attorney conceded, and a county court agreed, that the games at businesses like Dave and Buster’s are games of skill.

Another difference is that outlets like Dave and Buster’s do not pay out cash as prizes. However, current law on simulated gambling defines prize as a “gift, award, gratuity, good, service, credit or anything of value.” A state House bill, which advanced to the Senate March 26, would exempt “paper or electronic coupon(s),” including tickets or tokens, that cannot be exchanged for money.

The state’s constitutional definition of “slot machine” includes mechanical and video devices that, after inserting tokens or “upon payment of any required consideration whatsoever ... is available to be played (and) ... by reason of the skill of the player (or) the element of chance, or both, may ... entitle the player ... to receive cash premiums, merchandise, tokens, redeemable game credits, or any other thing of value.”

State law defines gambling as risking money or other value for gain that depends in whole or in part on chance, but makes exception for “bona fide contests of skill.”

The state House bill, HB 18-1234, would define simulated gambling devices without that exception.


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