ABC tries to placate operators of gambling machines in Baxter County | Arkansas Blog

Monday, April 17, 2017

ABC tries to placate operators of gambling machines in Baxter County

Posted By on Mon, Apr 17, 2017 at 5:51 AM

click to enlarge PULL TABS: Sale of gambling tickets such as these have been an issue in ABC enforcement in some clubs in Arkansas.
  • PULL TABS: Sale of gambling tickets such as these have been an issue in ABC enforcement in some clubs in Arkansas.

The Baxter Bulletin reports on outreach
by the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division to placate operators of gambling machines in nonprofit clubs in Baxter County.

A number of organizations — Elks, VFW and the like — have augmented revenue with a variety of gaming machines for years. The ABC has cited some operators and fined them for having gambling devices in places with alcohol permits. This created such a ruckus that Sen. Scott Flippo of Baxter County passed legislation to prohibit enforcement of gambling law by ABC agents. Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed the bill.

The ABC is apparently trying to soothe the unhappy operators, the Bulletin reported.

The director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control’s Enforcement Division is willing to personally make the call on whether or not area gaming machines are legal, he said Wednesday.

Director Boyce Hamlet met with 15 representatives from Twin Lakes Area fraternal organizations and businesses on Wednesday at the Elks Lodge 1714 of Mountain Home.

...“If you have a question about a game, if you think it’s iffy and you don’t want the agent to make the determination, call me,” Hamlet said. “I can send a supervisor; I can come out and look at it myself. Now, it may be that I look at some of these machines, and I say you can’t have them. But I will be open and fair about it. I want you guys to be successful.”

... “If you’ve been treated unfairly, I apologize,” Hamlet said. “We don’t have an ax to grind with the charitable organizations. We want you guys to be successful and give back lots of money to the community.”

The issue isn't restricted to Baxter County. Gambling games thinly disguised as recreational but coming with valuable prizes have proliferated around the state. Some enjoy protection of law, such as those at Dave and Buster's in Little Rock, though they pay off there only in valuable merchandise worth up to $500. Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson has a pending lawsuit for a games vendor aiming to get the machines declared games of skill, much as the slot, roulette, craps and other machines at Oaklawn and Southland Park are held to be "electronic games of skill."

The designation is dubious for some of the revenue streams at lodges in Baxter County. The newspaper indicates they've been selling so-called pull tabs — cardboard tickets virtually identical to scratch-off lottery tickets. The only skill or electronic intervention required for pull tabs is to insert coins into a vending machine that dispenses them and then pull the tabs that cover symbols that indicate whether a cash prize has been won.

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