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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Matthew Wilson@AE I think he means both.03/26/2015 - 9:23pm
ZippyDSMleeuhg either a nap after being up 30 hours or working on my comp blah. Oh wow when did the the all shout box page show 3 times as many shouts 0-o03/26/2015 - 8:30pm
Andrew EisenMechaCrash - Sony in particular or Hollywood in general?03/26/2015 - 7:38pm
Matthew Wilson@mach no way in hell, so that is why I want them to stay away.03/26/2015 - 7:21pm
MechaCrash"Get the movie right" is preferable to "stay away," but do you really think they won't screw it up?03/26/2015 - 7:19pm
Craig R.And yes, 90's games. Damn near all of my fav computer & console games were from that decade03/26/2015 - 7:00pm
Craig R.I'd take the NCAA seriously if they'd bite instead of bark03/26/2015 - 6:59pm
Andrew EisenConster - Sure, give me a few minutes.03/26/2015 - 3:05pm
Consterhttp://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2015/03/26/salesforce-ceo-says-company-is-cancelling-all-programs-in-indiana-over-lgbt-discrimination-fears/ http://edition.cnn.com/2015/03/25/politics/mike-pence-religious-freedom-bill-gay-rights/index.html03/26/2015 - 2:55pm
ConsterApparently Salesforce and the NCAA are also upset over SB 101. I know they're not video-games related, but maybe add a line to the article?03/26/2015 - 2:54pm
Andrew EisenThat said, I doubt that if the movie gets made, it will be similar to either version of the show. But, Star Wars movies will be out again and the designs are still pretty awesome so it's got a chance.03/26/2015 - 2:34pm
Andrew EisenPeople my age and older with disposable income and a fondness for nostalgia.03/26/2015 - 2:32pm
Matthew Wilson@AE I am kinda surprised sony would want to make a movie of something that is 30 years old. I woulder how many people remember robotech?03/26/2015 - 2:24pm
Andrew EisenProbably not but my wish is that Hollywood make good anime movies.03/26/2015 - 2:20pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://variety.com/2015/film/news/robotech-movie-sony-tv-series-anime-1201460191/ am I the only one that wishes Hollywood would stay a million mile away from anime?03/26/2015 - 1:29pm
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/markcassidycbm/news/?a=117247 Because when I think "all new, all different", my mind jumps to a hero that's served on FOUR different Avengers teams.03/26/2015 - 11:31am
Matthew Wilsonnot shocked, lets see how gencon reacts.03/26/2015 - 11:01am
Andrew EisenAnd for those of you keeping track, Indiana's SB 101 was signed into law this morning by Gov. Pence.03/26/2015 - 10:58am
james_fudgeyeah!03/26/2015 - 9:17am
Ivresseand Command and Conquer, Wing Commander, Fallout03/26/2015 - 8:51am
 

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