Dann sued by gaming company

John O'Brien Sep. 7, 2007, 3:15pm


ELYRIA, Ohio - Another gaming company is claiming Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann is trying to put it out of business and has filed suit against him.

Melissa Bregg, the owner of Thrill of Skill, says Dann's crackdown on electronic gaming machines is illegal and filed a complaint against him in Lorain County Court of Common Pleas, according to a report in The Morning Journal of Lorain.

"The resulting fall-out will have massive implications for Ohio residents," the complaint says, according to the report. "(Thrill of Skill and Bregg) employ numerous Ohio residents, all of whom will have to be laid off if plaintiffs' businesses are wrongfully shut down."

Gov. Ted Strickland and Dann recently teamed up to reform the gaming industry, with Dann issuing an emergency rule in August that makes a distinction between illegal games of chance and legal games of skill. The rule followed an executive order from 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.

"The rules are now clear," said Dann. "If a game can be won with skill and pays out in prizes worth less than $10, then it's legal. Everything else, including any game that pays out in cash, is illegal."

As a result, 700 Cease and Desist letters were mailed to manufacturers, distributors, owners, lessors and lessees of the machines. The letters stated those entities had three days to remove the machines from public access or face legal action. Dann has followed through with the threat.

Ohio Skill Games, Inc., maker of Tic Tac Fruit, earned a temporary restraining order, issued by Franklin County Judge Guy Reece II, from the rule. Thrill of Skill believes it, too, should be protected by the order, the report says.

In August, 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.

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