You May Want to Know About These Two Bills

I want to let you know about a couple of bills filed at the Capitol in Little Rock this week that may concern many Arkansans.

The first bill is Senate Bill 745. It amends Arkansas’ so-called “Chuck-E-Cheese Law” by increasing the maximum value of each prize a person may claim for playing coin-operated games.

You’re probably familiar with businesses like Chuck-E-Cheese that allow children to win tickets by playing coin-operated games like skee ball; the tickets can be redeemed for toys or other prizes.

In the mid-1990’s the Arkansas legislature passed a law intended to let family-oriented businesses like Chuck-E-Cheese offer small prizes for these games without allowing full-fledged casinos in Arkansas. To do so, the legislature capped the maximum value of each prize the business offers at $12.50.

Currently, family-oriented businesses like Chuck-E-Cheese may let people play coin-operated games for prizes, provided that the prizes are worth no more than $12.50. S.B. 745 raises that maximum value from $12.50 to $850.

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Oaklawn, Southland Play “Electronic” Blackjack with Live Cards

In 2005 the Arkansas Legislature passed Act 1151 authorizing West Memphis and Hot Springs to call special elections regarding “electronic games of skill” at their horse and greyhound tracks.

We said in 2005 that this legislation could make Oaklawn and Southland into de facto casinos. At the time we were assured casino-style gambling would not happen there—that each game would be electronic and involve some degree of skill on the part of the player. Within months of Act 1151’s passage, however, both tracks had casino-style games.

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