Home > Casino > Kentucky judge upholds ban on grey “skill games”

Kentucky judge upholds ban on grey “skill games”

| By Frank Legato
A Kentucky judge on Friday (28 June) upheld the 2023 law that banned grey-area “skill games”, rejecting claims by supporters that the ban violated various sections of the state constitution.
kentucky gray skills game ban upheld

The unlicensed machines are in convenience stores, gas stations and bars across Kentucky. They were banned by HB 594, which was signed into law by Governor Andy Beshear in March 2023. Other bills to legalise and regulate grey skill games have failed. Opponents of the machines argue that legalising them would constitute the largest expansion of gambling in state history.

Kentucky allows machine gaming only at racetracks, in the form of historical horse racing (HHR) machines. Lawmakers legalised HHR machines in 2021. Since then, retail and digital sports betting were legalised in March 2023.

Supporters sued to overturn Beshear’s grey skills-game ban. They claim it violates free-speech rights and arbitrarily bans the games in violation of the state constitution.

Judge says ask was “unreasonable”

According to the Kentucky Lantern, Franklin County Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd rejected those claims in the form. He issued a summary judgment requested by the state attorney-general’s office. The AG had previously shared its opinion that the ban does not violate free speech or equal protection guarantees.

“It was entirely unreasonable, based on Kentucky’s long history of regulating gambling… for an investor to expect that any machine operating on the fringe zones of legality as a gambling device would be exempt from subsequent regulation or prohibition by the legislature,” Shepherd wrote. He also wrote that the law banning the games was “a lawful exercise of the legislature’s police power to regulate gambling for the legitimate governmental interest in addressing the social harms of unregulated forms of gambling.”

Kentucky House Speaker David Osborne said the ruling “further confirms that these games were illegal and operating without any of the appropriate regulatory guidelines”, according to the Associated Press.

One plaintiff’s attorney emailed the AP saying his team will evaluate the ruling and may consider an appeal.

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Prominent Technologies brought a similar case surrounding grey skill games to the Jefferson Circuit Court and that was dismissed on 26 June.

Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter