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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Matthew Wilson@AE it could be like pokemo, but the tweet and the site makes it look like 2 different games. tbf I do not know Japanese.04/01/2015 - 7:29pm
MechaCrashInteresting how YouTube comments are universally acknowledged to be cesspits of idiocy where no coherent thought can survive, until a woman closes them. Then it's CENSORSHIP and being AFRAID OF DEBATE.04/01/2015 - 7:29pm
Andrew EisenThat's... weird. The Direct made it sound like this was an organic part of a single game.04/01/2015 - 7:08pm
Matthew Wilsonapparently the 2 sides of the story in the new fire emblem game is 2 difrent games in japan, and we are getting both combined. https://twitter.com/RPGSite/status/583415770744393729/photo/104/01/2015 - 7:00pm
MonteAE: there are pizzaria's that also make italian food which you can order in bulk to cater parties. Also, google pizza wedding; cause it is pretty cool04/01/2015 - 6:50pm
ConsterThe vast majority of (if not all) 1-star reviews are angry rants about its policy. 'Jesus said to love thy neighbor, assholes' (paraphrased) seems very common.04/01/2015 - 6:49pm
Matthew WilsonI did not check it out personaly. I only read a arctlice about it, but it does seem to be in a lets just say a very mean way.04/01/2015 - 6:41pm
Andrew EisenTrashed in a fair way or are people lying about cockroach infestations and stuff?04/01/2015 - 6:24pm
Matthew Wilsonwell they also are getting trashed on yelp too. given the number of people that use it, I suspect they will lose allot of business even if they change their mind.04/01/2015 - 6:19pm
Andrew EisenIt's a pizza joint. It caters weddings? Really? I mean, that's cool. Really cool, even. But seriously?04/01/2015 - 6:02pm
Consterhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/01/indiana-pizza-gay-couples_n_6985208.html04/01/2015 - 5:57pm
Andrew EisenConster - Link?04/01/2015 - 5:55pm
Conster-annnd they are 'temporarily closed' after phone threats. Way to take the moral high ground against bigotry, people. -,-04/01/2015 - 5:51pm
ConsterThe first business to use SB101 to deny service to gay weddings has arisen - let's see if EZK's theory about the free market being sufficient to deal with them holds u-04/01/2015 - 5:50pm
MonteYa i remember when she first started her videos with the comment sections open. There was A LOT of vile harrassment to shift through to get to any REAL debate. Youtube is a TERRIBLE debate forum. Can't blame her for not wanting to deal with harrasment.04/01/2015 - 5:49pm
ConsterWho's this "Anitia Skeeter" person you speak of?04/01/2015 - 5:31pm
Matthew Wilsonfatal frame coming to the US04/01/2015 - 5:25pm
ZippyDSMleeIanC: Not really but if that keeps you warm at night then well...its not me dealing with all that hatred daily :P04/01/2015 - 4:57pm
ZippyDSMleehttp://arstechnica.com/gaming/2015/03/it-felt-like-robbery-tomb-raider-and-the-fall-of-core-design/04/01/2015 - 4:55pm
james_fudgeIanC: or she doesn't like to be called every name in the book.04/01/2015 - 4:51pm
 

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