February 21, 2024 3 min read


Skill-Based Machines Set to Win Landmark Hearing in Texas

The court’s decision could have wide-reaching implications, prompting jurisdictions to introduce better regulation for these devices, guaranteeing adequate customer protection

In a groundbreaking legal battle, the State of Texas faces off against gambling machines in a case that could set a precedent for the future of such devices in the jurisdiction. The hearing, presided over by the 336th District Judge in Fannin County, marks the first time a Texas court is deciding the legality of these devices.

Skill Games Remain a Contentious Topic in Many Jurisdictions

Texas law explicitly forbids chance-based gambling machines. However, skill-based games circumvent existing restrictions and remain permitted despite their similarities. The legal scrutiny follows a county-wide seizure of gambling machines in March last year, impacting several locations. Fannin County District Attorney Richard Glaser and local law enforcement initiated the seizure, contending that the machines violated Texas gambling regulations.

A recent report by media outlet KXII revealed that the central question in this hearing was whether the 35 confiscated machines were skill-based or chance-based. Glaser firmly believes these machines operate on chance, making them illegal. If successful, the state plans to seize the machines and their proceeds. Such a move could also lead to more seizures, making business owners reluctant to invest in these devices.

These look like gambling machines, they play like gambling machines. We wanted to seize them all at one time.

Richard Glaser, Fannin County District Attorney

This ongoing legal battle mirrors a similar case in Pennsylvania, where a recent court decision deemed that skill games were legal. The decision caused significant backlash from the gambling sector, which claims that these devices, exempt from gaming taxes and oversight, threatened regulated operators and posed a danger to the public due to non-existent player protection measures.

The Machines Circumvent Existing Laws

While Pace-O-Matic, the company behind the devices, asserts that its games have been deemed legal in other parts of Texas, this hearing is the first instance of a court making a definitive decision. Joe Brown, a member of Pace-O-Matic’s counsel, argues that the games were meticulously designed to comply with Texas law and are, in fact, skill-based.

The skillful player can win every time that they play, and that takes it out of the definition of a gambling device.

Joe Brown, counsel for Pace-O-Matic

As the debate neared its conclusion, Fannin County District Judge Laurine Blake ruled that the game devices were skill-based and legal. She will be issuing an order for the return of seized property. This landmark decision could potentially impact similar machines across the state, setting a crucial precedent for the future of gambling devices in Texas.

Although the hearing has not concluded, the ruling signals a likely victory for skill games. Similar cases across the USA highlight the need for proper regulation. Treating them similarly to slot machines would solve most issues, bringing them out of the legal grey area and ensuring jurisdictions can collect taxes and enforce proper control.

Deyan is an experienced writer, analyst, and seeker of forbidden lore. He has approximate knowledge about many things, which he is always willing to apply when researching and preparing his articles. With a degree in Copy-editing and Proofreading, Deyan is able to ensure that his work writing for GamblingNews is always up to scratch.

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