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Issue Date: Vol. 53, No. 1, January 2013, Posted On: 12/21/2012

Maryland Operators Fear New Law Could Squash Redemption

Marcus Webb
TAGS: coin machine, Maryland Amusement and Music Operators Association, Maryland gaming law, risk reward games, redemption games, Larry Bershtein, Capitol Amusement Co., coin-op video game, arcade game, skills-based electronic gaming device

ANNAPOLIS, MD -- The Maryland Amusement and Music Operators Association is rallying the industry to ensure that a new gaming law won't be interpreted in such a way as to make redemption games unprofitable.

MAMOA president Larry Bershtein of Capitol Amusement Co. (Laurel, MD) is warning operators, "Your livelihood is threatened" because the new regulations "could potentially outlaw many videogames and almost all redemption machines in Maryland."

Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a bill (SB 864) on May 22. Among many other things, the bill legalized electronic bingo and clarified slot machine regulations. But it also charges the State Lottery and Gaming Commission to draw up regulations concerning various kinds of amusement equipment.

One possible interpretation of the new law's somewhat vague and contradictory language would severely restrict permissible prize values for redemption games.

In a statement on its website, MAMOA pointed to a chapter of SB 864 that said machines that offer tokens, tickets or credits that have "an individual value in trade not to exceed 5¢."

"Does this mean 100 tickets accumulated in say an arcade in Ocean City can be redeemed for an item with a value no higher than $5? So it would seem," MAMOA said.

Yet another chapter of the bill outlaws a "skills-based electronic gaming device" that awards prizes and can make play more difficult based on player performance.

Prizes may not exceed the lesser of 10 times the amount of a single game or $10 in value, according to yet another section of the bill, MAMOA said.

The association is seeking new members and support to aid in its lobbying effort in the state capital to ensure that operation of redemption games and merchandisers is not banned when state officials issue their regulations.

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