Justices reject appeal in slot machine dispute

Jacksonville-based Gator Coin had challenged order to remove machines

File photo
File photo

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Supreme Court has declined to take up a dispute about the legality of certain electronic games played in bars and other establishments.

Justices, as is common, did not explain their reasons Tuesday for the decision, which effectively let stand a ruling by the 1st District Court of Appeal in favor of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

The department was locked in a long-running dispute with Blue Sky Games and Jacksonville-based Gator Coin about whether the so-called “pre-reveal” games were illegal slot machines.

The legal wrangling began when the department’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco ordered two businesses to remove the machines, prompting challenges from Blue Sky Games and Gator Coin.

Supporters of the games contended that the machines are legal because they include a “preview” feature that advises players of the outcome of the games. But regulators and other critics argued the preview feature doesn’t matter because the “random number generator” used to create the games equates to the definition of slot machines, which are games of “chance,” under state law.

Also, a key issue was whether the slot-machine law applies to playing a single game or a series of games. While the outcome of the first “pre-reveal” game is known in advance, a player at the outset does not know the results of subsequent games.

The case went to the Supreme Court after the 1st District Court of Appeal upheld a ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper in favor of the department.