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Issue Date: Vol. 50, No. 11, November 2010, Posted On: 10/11/2010

Georgia Supreme Court Defends Redemption Viddies In Victory For Operators

Marcus Webb
Georgia Supreme Court, Carol Hunstein, adult redemption videogames, video games, skill games, skill-based video games, video game machine, coin machine, coin-devise, amusement business, amusement machine, coin machine operator, amusement vendor, ltra Telecom Inc. vs. Georgia, Allstar Inc. vs. Georgia

ATLANTA -- The Georgia Supreme Court on Oct. 4 reversed 2009 a state Appeals Court verdict, ruling that adult redemption videogames are legal even if players can accumulate points or credits over several plays without paying for a new play. See court ruling...

In addition, the court went out of its way to affirm that the games at issue are legitimate, legal amusement devices because outcomes can be influenced by the application of "some skill" by the player, even though (as the court noted), "The skill level involved in the play of the game machines at issue is unquestionably low."

Accordingly, the machines in question are not illegal slot machines because outcomes do not depend on pure chance, the high court said. Games involved in the case included Speedmaster, Nudge 'Em, Super Ball, Silver Bar, Peachy Queen, Pick-A-Winner and a device that offered three different games.

The high court ruling is regarded as a major victory for amusement operators in the state. Had the verdict gone the other way, it would have effectively wiped out much of the legal basis for Georgia's thriving redemption videogame market.

State prosecutors had charged that the videogames in question were illegal gambling devices because they had the characteristics of a slot machine and allowed players to accumulate points or credits over several plays. The high court strongly rejected this view in a civil case that nonetheless involved the application of criminal law.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Carol Hunstein said the court was guided in its decision on the points accumulation issue by a new law passed by the state legislature while the appeal to the Supreme Court was pending. Specifically, Hunstein cited an amendment signed by Gov. Sonny Perdue on May 26, 2010, which became effective July 1, 2010.

The new law, said Hunstein, clarified the intent of the legislature by stating that "single play" or "one play" means "the completion of a sequence of a game, or replay of a game, where the player receives a score and from the score the player can secure free replays, merchandise, points, tokens, vouchers, tickets or other evidence of winnings.

" Georgia state law permits adult redemption videogames that offer rewards of noncash merchandise, prizes, toys, gift certificates or novelties.

The verdict disposed of two similar cases from 2009, Ultra Telecom Inc. vs. Georgia and Allstar Inc. vs. Georgia.

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