A civil lawsuit that could have settled whether video games that offer real-money prizes to customers can operate as legal gambling devices will not actually resolve the controversial issue, or at least not anytime soon.
The aforementioned legal action was set to begin on October 2nd but Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green announced a decision to dismiss the lawsuit in a move aimed at preventing the Missouri State Highway Patrol from initiating an investigation of so-called “pre-reveal” games offered in a large number of locations across the state. The Judge shared that, in his opinion, the parties should not figure out those issues in the court system.
As reported by CasinoGamesPro, the legal action was filed in early 2021 by the vendor that supplies the games – Torch Electronics – and a local convenience store operator that hosts its machines, Warrenton Oil. At the time when the lawsuit was filed, the game supplier was facing felony prosecution in Linn County for allegedly promoting illegal gambling services. That case has already been dismissed.
Torch Electronics, Warrenton Oil, as well as two other plaintiffs, sought a court ruling that openly declared that the controversial games were legal and that playing them does not fall under the legal definition of gambling. The defendants in the case asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that if and when the group of plaintiffs faced charges of criminal activity, they would be given enough opportunity to provide all the evidence they liked in their defense.
According to the legal representative of the state, attorney Scott Pool, the lawsuit, which was categorized as a declaratory action, was not considered an ultimate solution for all the “real or imagined” harm. Mr. Pool was engaged by the state of Missouri to take over the case after Attorney General Andrew Bailey announced his withdrawal from the action, citing a conflict of interest as the reason for his decision.
Missouri Gaming Association Considering Potential Appeal
The attorney for the plaintiffs, Chuck Hatfield, has confirmed that Judge Green’s decision is set to be appealed.
Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green set aside only four days for the legal action, giving the attorneys until Tuesday, October 3rd, to file any briefs describing the exact issues they wanted him to cover in his written ruling. At the time, he said he would issue his decision by the end of the week.
Judge Green’s decision to dismiss the case also covered a Missouri Gaming Association’s counterclaim. The body, which represents the 13 licensed casinos in the state, was asking the Judge to side with the statement that the games and other similar devices used by Torch Entertainment were illegal.
Following the court’s decision, the Association’s executive director Mike Winter said that it remains to be seen whether the body will appeal the ruling. According to Mr. Winter, the ruling did absolutely nothing to address the ongoing proliferation of the machines that would just continue to spread across the local communities, affecting people who may be facing difficulties in controlling their addiction to gambling.