Kentucky Gray Machines Ban Bill Fails to Pass House Vote
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A bill that would have banned "gray machines" in Kentucky failed to pass a House vote on Friday. The machines, which have been popping up in gas stations, bars, and restaurants in the state over the last few years, have been controversial due to claims they are a form of illegal gambling. Supporters of the machines argue that they are "skill-based games with jackpots," but opponents say they are just another form of gambling.
The bill, HB594, was sponsored by Republican Representative Killian Timoney, who said it would clarify the status of the machines. "The bill explicitly states the machines that operate the way gray machines operate are illegal," he said, according to WLKY.
However, the bill faced opposition from the Kentucky Merchant Amusement Coalition (KYMAC), which represents small businesses that house the machines. Wes Jackson, KYMAC's president, thanked the House members for tabling the bill, stating that it had not been properly vetted and could harm small businesses. "We commend Representative Doan for his leadership on the floor, clarifying that the best and most reasonable solution is to support Kentucky small business by taxing and regulating skill games," Jackson added.
Mike Barley, chief public affairs officer for skill gaming machines developer Pace-O-Matic, also spoke out in defense of the gray machines. He said that the machines provide critical supplemental revenue for small businesses with fraternal clubs. "Our legal skill games serve as an important lifeline to small businesses with fraternal clubs. They provide consistent, reliable and supplemental revenue for these establishments at a time they need it most," Barley said.
While the bill failed to pass, some House members who voted against it expressed a desire to see the machines regulated. Republican Representatives Kim Banta and Emily Callaway both voted against the bill and said they want to see the machines stay but be regulated.
In its current form, the bill would have made exceptions for charitable gaming, esports, and skill-based contests, which supporters say the gray machines are. The machines have been a source of debate and controversy in Kentucky, and the issue is likely to continue to be a topic of discussion in the state.