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Gray machine ban moves into the final stage of consideration

Kentucky State Capitol
Stu Johnson
Kentucky State Capitol

Legislation to ban so-called “gray machines” throughout Kentucky easily passed out of committee Tuesday. The House bill now goes to the full Senate. The machines are found primarily in service stations and convenience stores. Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President Ashley Watts said her business organization hasn’t received one call in opposition to the ban.

“Our members elected to support banning these machines because of the way in which they were instituted, illegally, without government authorization or oversight. We have made our position on this issue very transparent both publicly and within our membership,” said Watts.

Testifying in support of the ban was Larry Arnett representing a military veterans’ organization. He said charitable gaming revenues for veterans’ groups have already been cut in half. Arnett said beneficiaries of money from this form of charitable gaming include tornado and flood victims.

Representing this gaming industry, Bob Heleringer said ban supporters who say the machines are an illegal form of gambling are just expressing an opinion.

“Whose opinion does matter on that, county attorneys, commonwealth attorneys, Kentucky State Police. Where are they? Could we not bring one of them in here? 120 county attorneys we have. 57 commonwealth attorneys. Where are they?” asked Heleringer.

Prominent Technologies Compliance Officer Howard Greer told the panel these games should not be considered gambling. He said players can develop skills in games and, quote, “win every time.” Greer said small businesses can use revenue from these games to pay more competitive salaries and help keep prices low on goods and services.

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Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 35 years. His primary beat is Lexington/Fayette government.
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