COLUMBUS, Ohio - An Ohio state judge decided Friday that enforcing Attorney General Marc Dann's ban on electronic gaming machines would cause irreparable harm to a maker of the game Tic Tac Fruit and granted its request for a temporary restraining order.
Judge Guy Reece II of the Franklin County Common Pleas Court agreed with Ohio Skill Games, Inc., Friday, ordering Dann to refrain from enforcing the emergency rule he implemented Wednesday. The rule followed an executive order from Gov. Ted Strickland.
Dann's rule states calling an illegal slot machine a "skill-based amusement machine" is an unfair and deceptive act or practice under the state's Consumer Sales Practices Act. It also provides a definition of what makes a machine skill-based, eliminating the existing ambiguity in state law, Dann said.
As a result, 700 Cease and Desist letters were mailed to manufacturers, distributors, owners, lessors and lessees of the machines. The letters state those entities had three days to remove the machines from public access or they will be sued by Dann.
"The Court finds that immediate and irreparable injury, loss, and/or damage will result to Plaintiffs without such order," Reece wrote.
Dann, meanwhile, said he was not surprised. Tic Tac Games has another action against the state's Department of Public Safety pending in the same court.
"We expected the interests controlling illegal gambling in Ohio to do anything to protect their profits," he said.
Earlier this month, an editorial in the Columbus Dispatch revealed that Dann has received more than $47,000 from gambling interests since he took office in January.
While in settlement negotiations with Dann, Castle King apparently donated $7,750 in January to Dann, which is reflected in his campaign finance reports.
His office had appealed a decision that found the company's machines were skill-based and not chance-based. Eventually, a settlement was reached, wherein Dann agreed that company supplied skill-based machines.
Later, the settlement fell apart as Dann accused the company of hiding information. In June, he called for more restrictions on the gaming industry.
A June report in the Columbus Dispatch says Ohio Skill Games has contributed $5,000 to Dann's campaign, and International Bingo Supply, which shares an address and chief executive with Ohio Skill Games, also contributed $5,000.
"These games are clearly unfair, deceptive and represent the types of abusive consumer business practices which Ohio's consumer laws were designed to combat," Dann said.