Published: March 14, 2023

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear Signs AGA Heralded Gray Games Ban Bill Into Law

Kentucky’s bill to ban gray, or skill games, seemed in peril last week. But on Thursday, it became law.

During his weekly press conference, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) told reporters that he signed House Bill 594. Sponsored by state Rep. Killian Timoney (R-Nicholasville), the legislation prohibits establishments from hosting the gaming machines that have popped up statewide in recent years. Those who violate the law face fines of up to $25K per device, including anyone who owns, operates, finances, supervises or manages a machine.

The machines have been the subject of debate in the state for the last couple of years. Kentucky’s horse racing interests and charitable organizations called for the ban, saying the machines they call gray games represent illegal gambling in a state that allows pari-mutuel horse racing, historical horse racing, a state lottery, and charitable gaming.

On the other side are the game manufacturers, distributors, businesses, and organizations hosting the machines. They claim the games are legal and don’t violate state law, with companies like Pace-O-Matic and Prominent Technologies seeking permission from county authorities before working with convenience stores, restaurants, and other establishments. They call them skill games because players can use their memory and hand-eye coordination to win each time they play.

Representatives from veterans’ fraternal organizations said the machines have eaten away at their gaming operations, which has reduced their capabilities to contribute to civic causes. Businesses that host the games say they are a vital source of revenue that helped many of them stay afloat during the pandemic.

Beshear Doesn’t Believe Games are Legal

Beshear told reporters that he considers himself a “pro-gaming governor,” but that comes with ensuring that the state regulates legal offerings.

While he supports the sports betting bill currently in the Senate, and said, “It’s time we have full-blown casino gaming,” the governor couldn’t extend that support to the machines he described as gray games.

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