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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Poll

Has a video game ever made you so mad you broke the controller?:

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ZenOk, so yeah...it's kind of a lie...but I HAD to go with "Nope. I'm zen." lol. Only broke one controller myself (PS3) on a playthrough of Uncharted that got frustrating.07/09/2014 - 10:38pm
MechaTama31I am not proud of this, but I had to select the "multiple times" option. Not for the same game, but I went through several controllers (particularly dreamcast ones. fragile, maybe?)07/09/2014 - 6:52pm
Andrew EisenI'd say breaking a handheld out of anger counts (even if it's just the hinge). Likewise, I'd say busting a keyboard or mouse counts so long as you were playing a game at the time.07/09/2014 - 12:28pm
ConsterAnd since there happened to be (without me realizing) a towel which broke the fall resulting in 'only' a damaged hinge, would that be option 2 or 4?07/09/2014 - 12:23pm
ConsterAbout the most recent poll: since the "controller" for the DS is basically part of the DS, does throwing my DS against the floor because Mario Basketball cheats count?07/09/2014 - 12:22pm
Sleakersaw this on Forbes, thought it was pretty good: http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2014/06/03/if-comcast-and-time-warner-dont-compete-then-why-shouldnt-they-merge/07/08/2014 - 9:09pm
Adam802the Sun is claiming games are as addictive as herion: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2014-07-08-the-real-story-behind-the-suns-gaming-as-addictive-as-heroin-headline07/08/2014 - 6:43pm
ZippyDSMleeIt takes 2-6 days to transferfunds to your bank, it can take up to 30 days for ebay to give you moeny from a sale. But lord to spend it its instant!07/08/2014 - 10:50am
Cheater87http://www.twinfinite.net/2014/07/08/evil-within-receive-gore-mode-dlc-japan/07/08/2014 - 10:00am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/07/08/bandai-namco-pulling-tales-of-phantasia-soon-to-be-unusable/ BN is shutting down Tales of Phantasia, and nothing of value will be lost.07/08/2014 - 9:34am
Sleaker3 business days when I've done it in the past.07/08/2014 - 12:54am
MaskedPixelanteOk, thanks.07/07/2014 - 9:12pm
Sora-Chan@MP If I recall correctly, it takes a few days.07/07/2014 - 7:49pm
MaskedPixelanteJust a few hours, it concerned me because I checked my bank account after the purchase was made, and no money appeared to be gone. At least with CC, it changes my credit limit when I purchase something, even if it doesn't process for a few days.07/07/2014 - 2:44pm
E. Zachary KnightNever done one that way, but I know the other way often takes forever and a day. How long have you been waiting?07/07/2014 - 2:28pm
MaskedPixelanteHas anyone ever done a bank-to-Paypal transfer before? How long does it usually take?07/07/2014 - 1:26pm
TheSmokeyViolent video games may actually increase players' sensitivity: study - http://technology.canoe.ca/Gaming/News/2014/06/30/21775831-relaxnews.html07/07/2014 - 12:37pm
E. Zachary KnightIf anyone wants to know, I just launched a Kickstarter campaign for my game Demon's Hex. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ezknight/demons-hex-cross-platform-collectible-token-game07/07/2014 - 11:09am
Cheater87Australia to get stricter game regualtion? http://mmgn.com/ps4/news--australia-s-tyrannical-game-censorship-legisl07/05/2014 - 1:53pm
MaskedPixelanteNo, I'm just saying that, were Ubisoft to shut down, the only thing of value lost would be Ubiart.07/05/2014 - 9:38am
 

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