Bill that would ban unregulated slot machines advances in state legislature

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – In Kentucky currently there are three forms of legal gaming, the lottery, charitable gaming and parimutuel wagering.  There’s a fourth form of gambling that operates within the “gray area” of the law. On Tuesday, a bill that would prohibit a form of unregulated gaming passed the Kentucky House and now heads to the Senate.

Store owners who offer these games known as “gray machines,” say these slot machines are drivers for business.  Some call them “skill games.”

“These gray machines are taking away from the legally passed forms of gambling like the lottery, charitable gaming and horse racing,” said Republican Senator Damon Thayer, of Georgetown.

Historically, bills like HB 608, haven’t made it out of committee during General Assembly sessions.  In this legislative session the bill is advancing and that has some businesses worried.

Business managers we talked to says with a lot of people struggling because of inflation, high gas and food prices, people need all the help they can get and they think gray machines can help.

Some store managers like Corey Edwards say money from the games has helped during the pandemic.

“We can pay our employees well and we can give them bonuses. They can get more work and more hours. It also puts us away from the store to be with our families. It has helped us out so much and without it I don’t think we would be here,” said Edwards.

Rajen Patel is the marketing director for Prominent Technologies, a company that owns “gray machines,” which would be unplugged if HB 608 becomes law.  Patel believes a lot of stores would be facing a big problem.

“There are hundreds of stores that have these games, from gas stations to restaurants, and taking them away will take away at lot of money from these businesses,” said Patel.

As for the rest of the store owners with gray machines, the legislative clock is ticking and they want to be heard before a final vote is taken.

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