A bill to ban controversial “gray” machines in Kentucky hit a roadblock on Friday. While House Bill 594 was passed by a House committee on Thursday after a 13-7 vote, the next day, when it was considered by the full House, it was voted to be tabled.
Wes Jackson, president of the Kentucky Merchant Amusement Coalition (KYMAC), stated in a press release: “We thank our House members for making the right choice today on HB594. The reality is this bill has not been vetted and stands to jeopardize the livelihoods of many Kentucky small businesses.”
“We commend Representative Doan for his leadership on the floor, clarifying that the best and most reasonable solution is to support Kentucky small business by taxing and regulating skill games,” Jackson added.
Gray machines have been popping up across Kentucky in gas stations, bars, and restaurants in the last couple of years. Supporters of the machines call them “skill-based games with jackpots,” but those opposed to them claim they are just another form of illegal gambling.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Representative Killian Timoney, said that HB594 will clarify where these machines stand. “The bill explicitly states the machines that operate the way gray machines operate are illegal,” he said, as reported by WLKY.
Exceptions in the bill include charitable gaming, esports and skill-based contests, the latter of which supporters say gray machines are. They also say the machines are crucial for small businesses that house them.
Mike Barley, chief public affairs officer for skill gaming machines developer Pace-O-Matic, stated: “Our legal skill games serve as an important lifeline to small businesses with fraternal clubs. They provide consistent, reliable and supplemental revenue for these establishments at a time they need it most.”
Those who voted against banning the machines echoed a similar sentiment but said they would like to see the machines regulated. Republican Representatives Kim Banta and Emily Callaway both voted against the bill and said they want to see the machines stay but be regulated.