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Court set to hear slot machines dispute

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An appeals court will hear arguments next month in a dispute about whether certain electronic games played in bars and other establishments are illegal slot machines.

The 1st District Court of Appeal has scheduled arguments July 17 in consolidated appeals by Gator Coin II, Inc. and Blue Sky Games, according to online dockets.

The firms went to the appeals court last year after a Leon County circuit judge ruled that the disputed games, known as “pre-reveal” games, are effectively slot machines.

The businesses sued the state after investigators with the Division of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms alleged the machines were illegal.

Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper originally sided with the businesses, finding that the machines didn't violate prohibitions against slots because the games include a "preview" feature advising players of the outcome "before the player commits any money to the game by activating the 'play' button."

But Cooper later reversed himself, agreeing with testimony that people pay to play losing games with the hopes of winning in subsequent games.

State lawmakers have debated the games but have not clarified the legal questions.