ATLANTA -- The Georgia Senate on March 14 voted 36-16 to pass HB 487, putting risk-reward entertainment machines under the control of the Georgia Lottery Corp. As previously reported by Vending Times, the House had passed the measure one week earlier. | SEE STORY
Greg Edwards, district attorney of Albany, GA, told radio station WALB that the legislation would make use of the Georgia Lottery's investigative arm to "track video poker activities." Leading Atlanta newspapers, TV and radio outlets continue to describe HB 487 as a video poker regulation.
However, a spokesman for the Georgia Amusement and Music Operators Association has advised Vending Times that the measure -- which GAMOA supports -- impacts adult redemption games. These devices are not poker machines, and "have been legal and licensed for years with a $5 per play prize limit, lowest in the nation," the GAMOA official said.
The spokesman also said Georgia's operators have been required to purchase master licenses and have been required pay per-machine fees since the early 1990s, and that games were divided into two classes some years back.
As reported earlier by VT, these features appeared to be new elements of HB 487. The bill classifies skill games as Class A machines, with $25 annual per-machine license fees, and those that accumulate points as Class B, subject to $125 per-machine annual license fees. The bill requires all Class B games to be linked to a central state-run computer by 2023.
Current Georgia law prohibits coin-operated games with poker or blackjack themes. However, no such constraint appears to apply to games under the auspices of the state lottery.
The state offers instant lottery games (embodied in paper scratch-off tickets) over the counter and through vending machines. Scratch-off games include "Fantasy Blackjack," featuring blackjack themes with playing card graphics. Other scratch-off lottery games, such as "$100,000 Monte Carlo," feature both playing card and slot machine style graphics.