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Ohio High Court Hears Skill Game Case

Posted On: 6/19/2010

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COLUMBUS, OH -- Operators in Ohio should be able to award prizes worth more than $10 to winners of skill games, according to an argument made before the state Supreme Court on June 9. A ruling is not expected for several months.

The plaintiff in the Supreme Court case was Pickaway County Skilled Gaming LLC, owner of the Spinners game parlors in Circleville and other cities. The case was filed to combat a 2007 law, which was rushed through the legislature.

Since the law's passage, operators in Ohio, as in other states, have allowed players to accumulate winnings across multiple plays in order to award higher-value prizes -- up to hundreds of dollars' worth of merchandise credits -- thus circumventing the intent of the law.

According to the plaintiff's attorneys, the $10 limit is unconstitutional and the sensible solution is to give players the bigger prizes they want. State attorneys counter-argued that officials have to draw the line somewhere, even if some operators and players seek to get around the limit.

In related news, the Ohio House and Senate on June 4 passed a casino regulation bill that will place skill games under the jurisdiction of the Ohio Casino Control Commission. If the bill becomes law, the commission will regulate permissible locations, payouts and taxes on skill games. Sweepstakes games were not mentioned in the bill.

The House voted 86-12 for the measure while the Senate approved it 20-12. The measure now awaits action by Gov. Ted Strickland.

Thousands of skill machines are believed to be in operation throughout Ohio, although the Columbus Dispatch reported that "there are no reliable estimates of their numbers." Also popping up are Internet sweepstakes games, which the Supreme Court case does not address.