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Unofficial Opinion 96-18

Unofficial Opinion 96-18

November 1, 1996
To: 

District Attorney
Coweta Judicial Circuit

Re: 

A video slot machine which involves no skill in its operation and offers a ticket value of up to $5.00 in merchandise is a "gambling device."

You have asked whether a certain video game which apparently offers up to $5.00 in merchandise when a player pays from $.25 to $2.00 for the opportunity to "spin" or "play" to gain the value of the result is a prohibited "gambling device." For the reasons outlined below, such a video game may be a "gambling device" as contemplated in Georgia's gambling statutes. {1}

The analysis of whether the video machine is a "gambling device" depends on the analysis of several statutes. Under O.C.G.A. § 16-12-20(2), "'Gambling device' means any contrivance which for a consideration affords the player an opportunity to obtain money or other thing of value, the award of which is determined by chance even though accompanied by

some skill, whether or not the prize is automatically paid by contrivance." (Emphasis added.) Applying this definition, a video slot machine which offers a value of up to $5.00 in merchandise for the chance to play for the lesser amount of $.25 to $2.00 may be a "gambling device." See 1971 Op. Att'y Gen. 71-167. However, because of recently enacted statutory provisions found at O.C.G.A. § 16-12-35(d)(1), further analysis is required. That Code Section provides:

Nothing in this part shall apply to a coin operated game or device designated and manufactured only for bona fide amusement purposes which involves some skill in its operation if it rewards the player exclusively with free replays or merchandise limited to noncash merchandise, prizes, toys, gift certificates, or novelties, each of which has a wholesale value of not more than $5.00 for a single play of the game or device. A player may be rewarded with both free replays and noncash merchandise, prizes, toys, gift certificates, or novelties for a single play of the game or device as provided in this Code section. This subsection shall not apply, however, to any game or device classified by the United States government as requiring a federal gaming stamp under applicable provisions of the Internal Revenue Code.

O.C.G.A. § 16-12-35(d)(1) (emphasis added).

The later enacted O.C.G.A. § 16-12-35(d)(1) does appear to remove any coin operated game or device from the definition of "gambling device" if there is some skill involved in the operation of the device. Therefore, the analysis of whether the video slot machine is a "gambling device" obviously depends on a specific, case-by-case determination of whether there is "some skill [involved] in its operation."

In summary, a video slot machine which involves no skill in its operation and offers a ticket for a value of up to $5.00 in merchandise is a "gambling device."

Prepared by:

CAROL A. CALLAWAY
Senior Assistant Attorney General


{1} It is nowhere noted in your request that these devices are the type utilized in a promotional giveaway or contest allowed under O.C.G.A. § 10-1-393.