Gambling or a Video Game? Nebraska Struggles with Tavern Machines

July 20, 2009 -

Here on GamePolitics we have - by design - ignored issues relating to electronic gambling games.

That's because, as a form of entertainment, video games are quite distinct from gambling. But that line may be blurred a bit by a new generation of tavern games which appear to require video game-like skills to win, rather than mere luck.

The Omaha World-Herald reports on one such game, a billiards affair called Bank Shot. While games of chance are considered illegal gambling under laws in Nebraska and many other states, Bank Shot seems to require skill:

The makers of the machine [say] that it is a game of skill that is no different from a game of Trivial Pursuit or a dart tournament sponsored by a bar or tavern. They also argue that the video game was carefully constructed to comply with Nebraska law...

The difficulty for law enforcement is in determining when a game requires more chance than skill, or more skill than chance.

Players can bet from $0.25 to $4 per game. To date, the largest jackpot has been $17,000:

The game centers on nine pool balls arranged in a grid formation. The player pushes a button that starts the balls flashing quickly in various formations. The player then pushes “stop” on a particular pattern, which helps to determine whether or not a player wins.

There are 30,000 patterns of pool balls built into the game. About 27 patterns flash in a given minute... players become more skillful at spotting the winning patterns after playing the game for a period of time...

Nebraska law enforcement officials are hoping that the state legislature will provide guidance on the issue.

24 comments

Nebraska State Auditor Employs Fuzzy Logic to Zing Gaming Librarians

March 2, 2009 -

Last week GamePolitics reported that some Nebraska librarians were under investigation by State Auditor Mike Foley (R) for - horrors! - purchasing a PlayStation 2 and Rock Band set for use in the library.

Foley's final report on Nebraska's library system is now out, including his findings on the video game issue:

[Library] Commission employees have occasionally provided their own personal game consoles for trainings and demonstrations...

GP: Now that's dedication, a quality that government bureaucracy is so good at beating out of its employees. No good deed, as they say, goes unpunished.

The purchase of gaming equipment is a questionable use of public funds. It is common
knowledge that children enjoy games and toys, so there appears to have been little need to
purchase the games.

GP: Wait - kids like games, so the library shouldn't buy them? Does that mean they should expend their budget on things that people don't like? WTH?

Moreover, none of the games purchased were so complicated or out of the ordinary as to require the Commission to demonstrate their use to library staff and others...

GP: Because absolutely everyone who walks into a Nebraska library - including older librarians - has an innate sense of how to set up and play Rock Band or Dance Dance Revolution? Thankfully, the Library Commission defended it employees against the Foley-crats:

Gaming equipment and games have become increasingly popular and in demand resources for library programming and service. The Library Commission purchased game equipment in response to requests from Nebraska librarians for demonstration and instruction. The Library Commission’s actions in acquiring gaming equipment and a few representative games are proper and in accord with the agency’s state statutory mission and its purposes in introducing new technologies, techniques and providing information and instruction in the use of these technologies.
 

GP: Bureaucracy... Grrrr...

Via: Nebraska State Paper

UPDATE: Cornfed Gamer has a terrific report on the situation with lots of additional details.

 
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Wonderkarpmy main sites are Niche Gamer and Gamerevolution. and IGN sometimes05/06/2015 - 4:40pm
Andrew EisenTo be fair, that's based solely on the links you've shared here. Maybe the rest of its output is golden.05/06/2015 - 4:22pm
Andrew EisenGreat, enjoy them! Although Techraptor has some of the worst, most disingenuous reporting I've ever seen.05/06/2015 - 3:54pm
WonderkarpGamesnosh, Techraptor, Nichegamer, and Escapist are the preferred alternatives to Kotaku and others05/06/2015 - 3:46pm
Andrew EisenFingers crossed and I really do mean that but my gut tells me this project will die on the vine like Based Gamer and GamerGate Facts (I think that's what it was called) before it.05/06/2015 - 2:58pm
Andrew EisenIt has way more problems than I have the space, time or patience to cover here. However, it appears brand new so maybe given time it will grow and improve.05/06/2015 - 2:58pm
Andrew EisenMy opinion (which I'm sure everyone is super duper interested in) is that something like a game site ombudsman could be valuable. It's something that's been suggested before, in fact. Unfortunately, this ain't it.05/06/2015 - 2:56pm
Wonderkarpjust a list showing examples05/06/2015 - 12:44pm
WonderkarpMost Political watchdog group websites will detail those they feel commited bigger injustices. Southern Poverty Law Center is an example.05/06/2015 - 12:41pm
MechaCrashThe fact that a good chunk of the page is made of a hit list is not at ALL creepy.05/06/2015 - 12:01pm
WonderkarpI dont think the layout is too bad. I've seen better. got the articles front and center which is the meat of the site, really.05/06/2015 - 11:38am
Andrew EisenEh, okay. Still not a fan of the layout but I'm getting a better sense of what it's trying to do. Less crap layout and more just different. Continuing on!05/06/2015 - 11:30am
Andrew EisenWow. That is quite possibly the most jumbled, confusing layout for a site I've ever seen. What an incomprehensible mess! Well, maybe the content is where it's at.05/06/2015 - 11:25am
Wonderkarpmake of it what you will.05/06/2015 - 11:15am
WonderkarpBrad Wardell article from the past.05/06/2015 - 11:12am
WonderkarpSo this was released...I want to say today. http://deepfreeze.it/ Its a large bit of information pertaining too GamerGate and things involved with it. There's an article on James Fudge, but it just lists that he was a member of Gamejournospros and the05/06/2015 - 11:12am
Andrew EisenAlso, let's keep Age of Ultron spoilers out of the Shout box for a while yet.05/06/2015 - 9:10am
Andrew EisenMatt - What feminist/anti-feminist insanity are you talking about? Certainly not the contents of the article EZK linked. Maybe the comments of said article?05/06/2015 - 9:10am
Infophile@Wonderkarp: The P.T. re-download issue is apparently limited to the US PSN only. Apparently Europe doesn't have this problem. So perhaps this means it'll be fixed.05/06/2015 - 8:20am
IvresseYou're talking about decisions in general. I prefer to judge decisions on a case-by-case basis.05/06/2015 - 8:10am
 

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