Nebraska Grapples with Unprecedented Expansion in Slot-Like Machines

A surge in the popularity of so-called “skill games” has prompted state legislators to reexamine the regulation and taxation of these video gaming machines, now widely found mnl168 in convenience stores and bars across Nebraska.

Lawmakers and Casino CEOs Sound Alarm Bells Over Unchecked Growth of “Skill Games”

The machines, which resemble traditional slot machines, have multiplied at an astonishing rate, with 4,752 units currently spread across nearly 1,600 retail locations in the state, reported The Nebraska Examiner. Since the beginning of the year, an additional 1,113 skill games have been installed, reflecting a growth rate of 27%. Approximately 900 more machines have received state permits but are yet to be deployed, raising concerns among lawmakers, problem gambling counselors, and casino operators.

Lance Morgan, President and CEO of Ho-Chunk Inc., which operates the WarHorse Casino in Lincoln, expressed his astonishment at the rapid proliferation of skill games. Unlike casinos, where slot machines require costly licenses, skill game machines can be installed after obtaining a $250 state sticker, leading to what Morgan perceives as an unlevel playing field.

State Senator John Lowe of Kearney, chair of the General Affairs Committee, has called for a public hearing at the State Capitol to address the concerns surrounding these machines. Lowe expressed his curiosity about the reasons behind the proliferation of these games, questioning whether they had inadvertently spawned a new industry.

Lawmakers Struggle with Regulation Amidst Rising Addiction Worries

While proponents of skill games argue that they involve an element of skill, critics argue that they are as addictive as traditional slot machines. David Geier, director of the Nebraska Gamblers Assistance Program, highlighted the rising concern of young gamblers engaging with these machines, which are often located in public spaces where age verification is not strictly enforced.

In response to these concerns, Albion Senator Tom Briese introduced a bill earlier this year aimed at increasing regulation and taxation on skill machines. However, the bill failed to advance, leaving the issue unresolved.

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Some advocates, like Morgan, are urging for increased regulation and enforcement through the State Racing and Gaming Commission, hoping to level the playing field and address the growing issue of problem gambling associated with these skill games.

Other US states are also battling video gaming machines. A contentious debate recently took place in the Pennsylvania Senate Community, Economic, and Recreational Development Committee over the regulation of “skill games,” which have proliferated in bars, clubs, gas stations, and convenience stores across the state. A proposed bill, Senate Bill 706, aiming to regulate and tax these games, faced opposition from the state’s regulated casino industry, claiming these unregulated machines bypass gaming laws and draw patrons away from casinos. At the same time, the Supreme Court of Virginia unexpectedly reinstated the state’s ban on slots-like skill machines, reversing a lower court decision that prevented enforcement of the ban.