Published: February 26, 2023

Legislation supporting and banning ‘gray machines’ introduced in Kentucky House

FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Legislation both supporting legalization and one calling for a full ban of so-called “Gray Machines” have now been introduced for consideration during the 2023 regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly.

While opponents call them Gray Machines, supporters now refer to them as “games of skill.” Whatever they are called, it is machines that have cropped up at convenience stores around the state and had even been seen at Fraternal Order of Police lodges, until it was announced that they were being taken out earlier this year.

Supporters of a ban have said the machines cut into revenues from the Kentucky Lottery and charitable bingo operations, while those who want to legalize and regulate them, including the machine providers, said the machines provide additional funds to the businesses that host them, and they are games of skill.

House Bill 525, sponsored by Rep. Steven Doan, R-Erlanger, would do the following:

--Establish a gaming commission to oversee the regulation and enforcement of skill games and other forms of gaming

--Require game operators to prove their terminals are indeed games of skill.

--Create a decal to be placed on all licensed machines, to distinguish them from other games.

--An establishment could have a maximum of two terminals per 500 square feet of public floor common space and a maximum of 5 terminals total (with the exception of truck stops which may have 10).  

--Require players to be at least 18 years old.

--All gross profits would be subject to a 6% tax paid to the state by the distributor.

However, Rep. Killian Timoney, R-Lexington, has introduced HB 594, which would ban the machines entirely, similar to legislation he sponsored last year.

It passed the House 50-31, and 24-13 in the Senate. However, the Senate made changes to the House version, and time ran out on the session, before the changes could be taken up in the House.

Mark Guilfoyle, executive director of Kentuckians Against Illegal Gambling, stated:

“Thousands of gray machines are already proliferating in communities across Kentucky. They are not confined to regulated gaming facilities, not run by vetted gaming professionals, and are not monitored by state regulators like legally authorized gaming venues. 

“It’s up to Kentucky legislators to ignore the false promises and put a stop to this illegal gambling. We should not be rewarding the bad behavior of gray machine operators who, without any authorization or oversight, have infected our communities with their illegal gambling machines.” 

Both bills were introduced on Wednesday, and neither have been assigned to a committee.

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