Ohio Senate gives Dann a boost

John O'Brien Oct. 18, 2007, 4:41pm


COLUMBUS, Ohio - Marc Dann will apparently have the benefit of legislation as he goes after his state's gaming industry.

The Ohio Attorney General learned Wednesday that the state's Senate passed emergency restrictions on certain electronic gaming machines, meaning the bill must only pass through the House of Representatives before being signed into law by Gov. Ted Strickland.

House Bill 117 passed with a 26-7 measure of approval. It bans cash prizes for games awarded from gaming machines located in bars and other businesses.

In the bill, illegal slot machines are defined as "any mechanical, electronic, video or digital device that is capable of accepting anything of value, directly or indirectly, from or on behalf of a player who gives the thing of value in the hope of gain."

Previously, such games that were skill-based were legal, while games of chance were considered illegal. Now, it could all be off limits soon.

A report in the Columbus Dispatch showed mixed feelings from the legislators, some happy the bill was passed and others unhappy with the speed of the process.

Also, it quoted David Mullins, president of ATM Systems in Columbus. He said the bill will lead to layoffs for his company, which manufactures machines that combine ATM abilities and electronic gaming.

"If they eliminate skill games, they are going to kill my business," he said, according to the report. "I'm going to end up pulling most of my ATMS out. Who is going to use them if they can't smoke and they can't play skill games."

The bill's emergency status means there will be no 90-day period after Strickland signs it before it becomes a law. Strickland and Dann struggled to reform the industry themselves earlier this year.

Dann issued an emergency rule in August that made a distinction between illegal games of chance and legal games of skill. The rule followed an executive order from Strickland.

Dann's rule had a tough time standing up in court, losing several challenges to upset gaming machine manufacturers.

Should the House OK the bill, that won't be an issue anymore. Business that contain bowling alleys, dart boards and pool tables are not affected by the bill.

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