Online Slots News

Machines That Look, Sound and Play Just Like Slot Machines but really arent.

Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale had raided the Race Course on December 15, 2005. J. Scott Vowell, Presiding Judge on the Jefferson County Circuit Court, had an amazingly quick decision issued a final judgment on January 31, 2006, declaring the machines to be part of a legal sweepstakes. This was the result made by the Alabama court to rule that the Birmingham Race Course can legally operate more than 1,300 machines that look, sound and play just like slot machines - but aren't.

Judge Vowell permanently enjoined the Sheriff from taking any further action against the sweepstakes operation and ordered him to return all money, papers and equipment seized in the raid.

The testimony of The Race Course stated that the sweepstakes had been set up to promote the track and a CyberCenter with 116 state-of-the-art computers where patrons could connect with the internet. "Qcards" were given to customers, a plastic access card with an encoded magnetic strip. The Qcard was taken to a Point of Sale Terminal to purchase the cybertime, 4 minutes for $1. Although much were more interested in the 100 MegaSweeps entries that came with $1 each purchase, some patrons still actually are using the Internet time at the CyberCenter. To know the winner or loser from the card, the patrons could not tell just by looking. The computer already predetermined the winner and loser which were encoded onto the card. The patron should access a website or call 800 number or - here it comes - go to an electronic Reader to check if their card win or lose.

These 1,300 electronic Readers are designed and arranged so that they look and sound like slot machines at a gambling casino as the court predetermined. "The evidence shows that during the brief period the plaintiff were operating the promotion, few customers were using the CyberCenter; however they were lined up at all hours to use the Reader." That's how successful the promotion was.

"Do the Readers appeal to patrons' urge to gamble?" asked the Sheriff. Prize, chance and consideration are the three elements of gambling. The sweepstakes certainly had prize - winners were paid in credits or cash. The outcome was determined 100% by luck. Was there consideration?

In some states, this type of consideration is still enough for gambling contract. There was clearly sufficient consideration for a non-gambling contract: Patrons had to sit through a show and the operator obtained more potential customers. But, the Supreme Court of Alabama held that there was no direct proof that anyone paid anything for the right to participate in the drawings.

Operators have taken this rule - it is not gambling if no one is required to pay money, even if most do, to participate - and created everything from the no-purchase-necessary sweepstakes to no-purchase-necessary poker games and Birmingham Race Course's no-purchase-necessary slot machines.

A loophole in the law was used by The Race Course, admitted Judge Vowell, but it is the legislature to declare an activity illegal, and he stated that it was not up to the courts to tell the legislature what they should have done. The Race Course did everything right in the end.


Monday, 21 August 2006
Caroline Mitchell