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Judge rules pre-reveal game machines as illegal slots

(WJHG)
Published: Jun. 20, 2017 at 4:00 AM EDT
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By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service

June 20, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – A Circuit Court Judge reversed his ruling on pre-reveal game machines to reclassify them as illegal slots. The ruling comes after the judge was asked to reconsider his decision by the Seminole Tribe.

In Florida, the Seminole Tribe has exclusive rights to slot machines and banked card games, except in two southeast Florida counties. In return, the tribe pays a percentage of its profits to the state.

That exclusivity was in jeopardy over a court ruling that legalized machines like the pre-reveal game.

The games play like slot machines, with one exception: players can know ahead of time if the next game will be a winner.

Players know the outcome of a game before they put their money down, but they cannot know the outcome of future games. That’s where the gamble comes in.

Barry Richard, the lawyer representing Seminole Tribe, says, “Nobody leaves a winning game on the machine, so you always start with a losing game. And you're playing a losing game even though you know it. Why do you do that? You do it because you want the chance of winning the next game and you don't know the result of the next game. That's a slot machine.”

State regulators deemed the machines illegal, but manufacturer Gator Coin II challenged the state. Circuit Judge John Cooper initially ruled the games were not considered gambling, but later reversed his decision.

“The tribe is entitled to have no competition, even from one machine,” says Richard. “They're paying over 250 million dollars a year. That's twice as much as the casino taxes from all of the parimutuels put together.”

If the Seminole Tribe were to pull out of its agreement with the state, it could have cost Florida between 250 and 300 million dollars in annual revenue.

Bars and gas stations currently operating pre-reveal game machines in their businesses will have to cease with the new ruling. Officials with Gator Coin II say they plan to appeal the decision.