Future of ‘Coin Pusher’ Game Uncertain, Judge Asks for Another Court Hearing

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.- A Georgia based gaming operator isn’t finding much luck in south Dakota right now. The state shut down his coin pusher machine at the Sioux empire. So he took his case to the federal court suing the state’s Department of Revenue, but today, a judge denied his request to operate the machine at the Brown County Fair in Aberdeen.

It all comes down to whether this machine owned by Lonnie Fowler, owner of Fowler’s Concessions is a game of chance or game of skill. A federal judge did say he believes the game requires skill, but what remains unanswered is how much the game is skill or luck.

Last  Tuesday, the South Dakota Department of Revenue shut down Fowler’s six coin pusher machines called the “car wash” based on a 2008 state attorney general’s opinion. It states “quarter pushers are illegal gambling devices” and considered an “unlawful game of chance” compared to a game of skill. A game of skill is allowed because it is not considered gambling.

Earlier in court, Fowler went through and described pictures of different gaming devices that were considered a game of chance. he says his machines are different because they are based on skill and if one keeps playing it, they will improve. He says prior to bringing his machine to the fairs, three years ago, he worked with a retired sergeant at the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office to determine whether his machine would meet state law.

Both the Minnehaha County State’s Attorney and gaming officials had no problem with the machine. Scott Swier, Fowler’s lawyer says the department did not inspect or view the machine prior to shutting it down. Instead, the department made the decision based on the attorney general’s opinion in 2008.

Swier also says despite them not getting Fowler to the Brown County Fair, their goal is to help Fowler be part of the fairs next year. Another court hearing has been set, a date has not been selected. Fowler’s machines are considered games of skill by other states.

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