Patrick J. Crank
CHEYENNE -- Wyoming Attorney General Patrick J. Crank looks to be on a collision course with the state's legislature over his opposition to a popular form of gambling. Crank recently wrote that so-called "fruit machines" popular in bars and restaurants in the Gillette area are "illegal gambling devices." The company that distributes the machines, Black Hills Novelty, began pulling the machines a few days ago. The "Fruit Bonus 2000" machine, which look like video slot machines, lets players deposit money and win tickets that can be redeemed for food and drink. Crank wrote last week that even after modifications are made to the machines, "officials in Texas and Missouri have found them to be purely games of chance." But the Wyoming House appears intent on clawing back at least one of Crank's other gambling prohibitions. Lawmakers yesterday gave initial approval to a bill that would effectively undermine Crank's 2004 ban on poker-playing in the state's public establishments. The bill would exclude the income restaurants and bars make from selling drinks and food to gamblers from the definition of "gambling profits." Crank originally ruled that such gambling was illegal if it was profitable, including indirectly through increased business. Evoking Wyoming's image as a wild-west settlement, the Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association said allowing patrons to gamble in bars and restaurants "is a tradition in Wyoming."