CHEYENNE – Attorney General Peter Michael declared some video “skill games” illegal under Wyoming gambling laws Tuesday.
In a formal opinion letter addressed to Natrona County District Attorney Michael Blonigen, Michael said electronic slot-type games manufactured primarily by Banilla Games Inc. and used in various Wyoming establishments should be considered gambling.
“Because gambling in Wyoming is a crime, not a civil violation, local law enforcement officials and prosecutors will need to determine the timing of the appropriate next steps if their communities have these machines,” Michael said.
This will likely result in law enforcement officials asking business owners to remove any games fitting this description.
Blonigen asked the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office to investigate the lawfulness of these so-called “skill” games, and Michael worked with the device distributors to examine how they operate. According to Wyoming law, a slot machine is illegal when it’s primarily a game of chance.
Michael determined that the “Nudge” and “Hot Swap”-themed games include financial wagers and elements of chance.
“These machines are illegal gambling devices under Wyoming law,” Michael said in the letter.
“Those who play them are engaged in gambling, which is a crime in Wyoming, and those who provide the games are engaged in professional gambling, which is also a crime in Wyoming.”
Games include titles such as Bath-time Bucks, Fruity Sevens, Spooky’s Loot and Mega Money Reel.
In the letter, Michael said the machines were programmed to yield predetermined amounts on each spin. Because of this, a percentage of money inserted in the machine will be paid out to players, but programming ensures the owner will keep some, too.
“In other words, the machines are always to keep some total of the wagered amount for the owners and operators,” he wrote.
The opinion did not address the lawfulness of the “historic horse racing” terminals at certain pari-mutuel off-track betting locations in Wyoming, nor does it affect tribal gaming operations conducted on the Wind River Indian Reservation by the Eastern Shoshone and the Northern Arapaho tribes.