Gambling or a Video Game? Nebraska Struggles with Tavern Machines

July 20, 2009 -

Here on GamePolitics we have - by design - ignored issues relating to electronic gambling games.

That's because, as a form of entertainment, video games are quite distinct from gambling. But that line may be blurred a bit by a new generation of tavern games which appear to require video game-like skills to win, rather than mere luck.

The Omaha World-Herald reports on one such game, a billiards affair called Bank Shot. While games of chance are considered illegal gambling under laws in Nebraska and many other states, Bank Shot seems to require skill:

The makers of the machine [say] that it is a game of skill that is no different from a game of Trivial Pursuit or a dart tournament sponsored by a bar or tavern. They also argue that the video game was carefully constructed to comply with Nebraska law...

The difficulty for law enforcement is in determining when a game requires more chance than skill, or more skill than chance.

Players can bet from $0.25 to $4 per game. To date, the largest jackpot has been $17,000:

The game centers on nine pool balls arranged in a grid formation. The player pushes a button that starts the balls flashing quickly in various formations. The player then pushes “stop” on a particular pattern, which helps to determine whether or not a player wins.

There are 30,000 patterns of pool balls built into the game. About 27 patterns flash in a given minute... players become more skillful at spotting the winning patterns after playing the game for a period of time...

Nebraska law enforcement officials are hoping that the state legislature will provide guidance on the issue.

24 comments

Nebraska State Auditor Employs Fuzzy Logic to Zing Gaming Librarians

March 2, 2009 -

Last week GamePolitics reported that some Nebraska librarians were under investigation by State Auditor Mike Foley (R) for - horrors! - purchasing a PlayStation 2 and Rock Band set for use in the library.

Foley's final report on Nebraska's library system is now out, including his findings on the video game issue:

[Library] Commission employees have occasionally provided their own personal game consoles for trainings and demonstrations...

GP: Now that's dedication, a quality that government bureaucracy is so good at beating out of its employees. No good deed, as they say, goes unpunished.

The purchase of gaming equipment is a questionable use of public funds. It is common
knowledge that children enjoy games and toys, so there appears to have been little need to
purchase the games.

GP: Wait - kids like games, so the library shouldn't buy them? Does that mean they should expend their budget on things that people don't like? WTH?

Moreover, none of the games purchased were so complicated or out of the ordinary as to require the Commission to demonstrate their use to library staff and others...

GP: Because absolutely everyone who walks into a Nebraska library - including older librarians - has an innate sense of how to set up and play Rock Band or Dance Dance Revolution? Thankfully, the Library Commission defended it employees against the Foley-crats:

Gaming equipment and games have become increasingly popular and in demand resources for library programming and service. The Library Commission purchased game equipment in response to requests from Nebraska librarians for demonstration and instruction. The Library Commission’s actions in acquiring gaming equipment and a few representative games are proper and in accord with the agency’s state statutory mission and its purposes in introducing new technologies, techniques and providing information and instruction in the use of these technologies.
 

GP: Bureaucracy... Grrrr...

Via: Nebraska State Paper

UPDATE: Cornfed Gamer has a terrific report on the situation with lots of additional details.

 
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prh99It's not unusual for community guidelines to conflict with content served to said community. Of course the idea is to try and keep user from using those words as weapons against each other.04/21/2015 - 5:36pm
IronPatriotGTA to players: Do as we say, not as we do. Wait... don't do as we say, either.04/21/2015 - 4:32pm
Daniel LewisBy the big 3 i mean the three console developers,sony,microsoft and nintendo04/21/2015 - 4:30pm
InfophileThe filter also misses a lot of slang from non-American dialects of English. I'd go on to list a bunch here that I've learned since living in Scotland, but... well, let's just say "dogging" has a much different meaning over here.04/21/2015 - 4:11pm
ConsterI know about gash's meaning (I googled it prior to my comment, I just meant I can't really see myself ever using it like that). What do you mean with 'the big three', though?04/21/2015 - 3:52pm
Daniel LewisAnd Gash can be used as slang for the female genitalia04/21/2015 - 3:46pm
Daniel LewisActually all the big three are in that list,pretty common place for games to add a filter for words no matter what is used in the game04/21/2015 - 3:44pm
Consterand do people pretend to be software developers a lot or something?04/21/2015 - 3:29pm
Consterapparently 'gash' is also slang nowadays? I just know it as an injury type. Also, how come 'bisexual' is on the list but 'lesbian' (when properly spelled) isn't?04/21/2015 - 3:28pm
E. Zachary Knighthttp://kotaku.com/nintendo-and-other-banned-words-i-cant-use-in-grand-th-169924759704/21/2015 - 2:59pm
E. Zachary KnightGTA 5, a game that uses a vast array of swears, racist and sexist language in the dialog of the game, bans people from using those sames words along with a vast number of others, including 'Nintendo'. 04/21/2015 - 2:58pm
ZippyDSMleehttp://www.wired.com/2015/04/dmca-ownership-john-deere/04/21/2015 - 1:58pm
ZippyDSMleeMatthew Wilson: Classic shell ^_~04/21/2015 - 1:56pm
Matthew Wilson@zipp I dont like the star menu taking up the whole dam screen, so just getting the start menu back will be worth it.04/21/2015 - 11:19am
ZippyDSMleeI got a extra HDD I will take win 10 for a spin. see if tis worthwhile heck if I do not have to move colums over in Skyrims creation kit its a keeper!04/21/2015 - 10:53am
ZippyDSMleeMatthew Wilson: Been on win 8.1 a few months the only thing I do not like is compatibility issues with older programs. 10 won't fix that sadly...04/21/2015 - 10:51am
E. Zachary KnightThe US Supreme Court has ruled that the 4th Amendment does offer US citizens some protections. This is a change of pace from other 4th Amendment rulings. http://reason.com/blog/2015/04/21/supreme-court-says-police-violated-4th-a04/21/2015 - 10:35am
E. Zachary KnightNot sure on that specific. But It is slightly annoying, but it can help to clairfy on occasion.04/21/2015 - 10:13am
IvresseCan I just ask out of curiousity why people repeat the title in their shout when it clearly states it in the URL?04/21/2015 - 9:07am
E. Zachary KnightI would say that is true. It drives me nuts when games are patched. The closer the patch is to launch, the worse it is.04/21/2015 - 9:06am
 

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