CORONA, CA -- The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department will support an amended version of California Assembly Bill 1753 with language less unfavorable to the state’s amusement industry, according to attorney Bob Snyder, founder and principal of Bob Snyder & Associates here.
In its original form, the proposed measure posed a potential threat to legitimate operators of ordinary prize-awarding skill games. Read more.
The bill’s language would have restricted the value of prizes awarded by amusement machines to an amount no greater than the play price. Operators had feared that this provision would have an extremely negative impact on redemption games and skill-based prize merchandisers in California – in the worst case, outlawing this kind of equipment altogether.
Snyder reported in mid-April that the troublesome language had been deleted from an amended version of the bill. This amendment was proposed in the wake of a series of face-to-face consultations that he held with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Snyder, himself a former member of the LASD, praised the department’s “professional openness” in seeking solutions to make the job of law enforcement easier while preserving the rights of amusement operators.
According to Snyder, the original bill resulted from the department’s desire for stronger gambling penalties to deter the operator of three illegal machine types whose popularity is growing in California. To achieve this goal, the measure would have stiffened penalties for anyone convicted of operating illegal slot machines and amusement games that pay cash prizes, as well as cranes and pushers stocked with valuable prizes (such as $100 bills).
The Department reported that these illegal devices have been proliferating throughout California in recent months, presumably because a growing number of locations have decided that their potential profits outweigh the risk of incurring the existing penalty.
As amended, the bill would increase the penalty for operating slot machines to as high as $25,000 for a third violation. However, it deletes the original bill’s limit on maximum prize value. Native American tribal gaming interests, California amusement park owners and amusement machine distributors, among other groups, were involved in the campaign to remove the prize value constraint.
The Sheriff’s Department is considering language that would criminalize cash payouts by devices purported to be games of skill. New language prohibiting such cash payout may be added as the bill moves through the legislative process, Snyder explained.