One of the biggest video gaming machines with real cash payouts available across the state of Kentucky had started a legal action aimed at blocking a newly-passed piece of legislation under which the devices, also known as “skill games” and “gray machines”, are set to be banned.
The lawsuit was filed on March 28th, 2023 in Franklin Circuit Court collectively by a number of plaintiffs, including Pace-O-Matic (POM), and seeks the court to declare that the suspension enacted by House Bill 594 violates the state’s Constitution. The legal action also seeks the court to issue a temporary and permanent injunction that would make it impossible for Attorney General Daniel Cameron to enforce the new piece of legislation.
In a statement, issued by Pace-O-Matic, the company’s spokesman Michael Marley confirmed that the slot-like machine manufacturer filed a lawsuit in Kentucky, along with a few other skill game operators, players, and locations. According to the company, legislation suspending skill games violates Kentucky’s Constitution and POM would defend the legality of its games in court.
The video gaming machines have been among the most-discussed issues in the Kentucky General Assembly over the last couple of years, with two opposing groups collectively spending almost $600,000 to advertise their “pro” and anti” ban positions in January and February 2023 alone.
New Law Suspending Skill Games in Kentucky Set to Come into Force on June 29th
Both the Kentucky House and Senate approved the piece of legislation suggesting the ban on the games in 2022 but the measure has not become law yet. Only a fortnight ago, House Bill 594 managed to clear all floors of the local Legislature following intensified lobbying efforts in the 2023 legislative session, and was then quickly signed into law by Governor Andy Beshear.
The new law is scheduled to go into effect on June 29th, 2023. However, the legal action filed by POM seeks to prevent Attorney General Daniel Cameron and all law enforcement officials, including prosecutors, administrative agencies, and government officers from enforcing the ban.
Recently, a number of other US states, such as Pennsylvania and Virginia, have moved to ban the so-called skill games through the implementation of regulations or legislation. However, those legislative efforts have also been attacked in court by various companies like Pace-O-Matic to have them blocked.
Reportedly, the legislative lobbying and advertising war regarding the piece of legislation seeking to suspend video gaming machines forced POM to compete with the local horse racing industry, with each side supporting new organizations that placed the TV adverts supporting and opposing a suspension. The battle between these two interests has seen the aforementioned legal action state that skill games have recently infuriated horse racing representatives in Kentucky due to the fact that the popular form of entertainment has been widely popular in restaurants, convenience stores, truck stops, and other locations offering video gaming machines.
The complaint filed by Pace-O-Matic categorizes the ban on skill games as unconstitutional on a number of grounds, including violations of due process, plaintiffs’ free speech and equal protection rights. Apart from that, the lawsuit also says that the ban breaches the constitutional protections against special legislation and would take the property without providing compensation for the losses experienced as a result of the ban. According to the lawsuit filed by POM yesterday, skill games are a form of expression, so the ban violates free speech rights that are protected under the Kentucky Constitution.