COLUMBUS, Ohio - The debate whether electronic gaming machines in Ohio are skill-based and legal or illegal games of chance escalated Wednesday when Attorney General Marc Dann issued an emergency administrative rule in response to an executive order from Gov. Ted Strickland.
Dann's order 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 have been mailed to manufacturers, distributors, owners, lessors and lessees of the machines. The letters state those entities have three days to remove the machines from public access or they will be sued by Dann.
"I would like to applaud Gov. Strickland for acting decisively to protect Ohioans," Dann said.
"Our purpose is to make it clear that electronic slot machines cannot be portrayed as skill-based amusement machines -- a practice that has become distressingly common in our state. "From this moment forward, if it looks like a slot machines, sounds like a slot machine and pays out cash, it's a slot machine."
Dann said there are approximately 40,000 such machines in the state. He added that civil penalties for future violators may reach $25,000.
The rule will expire in 90 days, though Dann said he is begun the process required to make the rule permanent.
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.