General Assembly Rushes to Halt Skill Game Emergency
In its continuing quest to stamp out fun in Ohio, the Ohio House of Representatives approved emergency legislation to ban skill games. Jim Siegel and James Nash of The Columbus Dispatch report:
The Ohio House voted overwhelmingly yesterday to put an immediate end to the proliferation of slot machine-like games in the state.
The bill would ban games with cash payouts or prizes with values of more than $10. It also bans tournaments, such as those for Golden Tee Golf machines, darts or pool, in which the house takes a cut of the proceeds.
[...]If enacted, the law will be "devastating" to bars and other businesses that draw in customers with pool and dart tournaments and games such as Golden Tee Golf and Silver Strike Bowling, said David P. Corey, executive vice president of the Ohio Coin Machine Association. Many of those bars already are losing business because of the statewide smoking ban, he said.
(entire article here)
But wait, it gets worse. Mr. Nash also reports:
As written, the bill declares illegal any "mechanical, video, digital or electronic device" that pays out any amount of cash or merchandise with a wholesale value of $10 or more. It also bans tournaments in which the house takes a cut of the proceeds.(entire article here)
The restrictions alarm some bowling-alley proprietors, who say it's not hard to conceive of authorities defining a bowling alley as a mechanical device and a tournament purse as a cash payout. Several bowling operators are lobbying state senators to explicitly exempt them from the proposed law.
"This legislation appears to be extending way beyond just the skill-game issue," said Lee Zavakos, who owns a Dayton bowling alley and is an officer with the Bowling Proprietors Association of America. "They claim they're not coming after us, but there's language that's definitely going to hurt us."
Nearly all bowling leagues issue cash prizes to winners, said Jo Dimond, manager of the central Ohio chapter of the U.S. Bowling Conference.
That's right, under this legislation, nearly all bowling leagues in Ohio could be illegal. This is emergency legislation, meaning that it would take effect immediately and opponents would not have the opportunity to collect signatures for a referendum to repeal it.
Our last chance to stop this legislation may be in the Ohio Senate. No Fun Ohio has an action alert, with contact information for your state senator. However, the correct bill number is 177, not 117, as No Fun Ohio states.* Please call or e-mail your state senator today and ask him or her to vote NO on Amended Substitute House Bill 177. Please also contact Governor Strickland and ask him to veto H.B. 177.
In its rush to curb the gambling menace, the General Assembly is poised to outlaw bowling, dart, and pool tournaments. Meanwhile, the West Virginia Lottery Commission recently approved 24-hour-a-day table game operations at three locations, including two on Ohio's shores.
* Update: No Fun Ohio has since corrected the bill number.