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Bank Shot gaming machine case continues toward trial

The fate of a popular bar gaming machine that drew the ire of Nebraska officials remains headed for trial in Lancaster County District Court.

Last week, Judge Steven Burns denied a request by state agencies including the Department of Revenue, the Nebraska State Patrol and the Attorney General's Office for summary judgment in a civil case involving the future of Bank Shot gaming machines.

In September, the companies behind Bank Shot -- American Amusements Co. and America Distributing -- asked the court for a restraining order to keep the state from confiscating the games and to declare Bank Shot legal. About 450 of the games had been distributed to bars in 150 Nebraska cities. The games have jackpots as high as $12,000.

The state, the defendant in this case, argued the suit should be thrown out because state law showed Bank Shot is an illegal game of chance rather than one of skill.

The state cited Nebraska Statute 28-1101, which reads in part, "A person engages in gambling if he or she bets something of value upon the outcome of a future event, which outcome is determined by an element of chance..."

Wrote Burns: "All parties seek determination of the meaning of a 1979 amendment to Nebraska statutes. It is a bit unusual for an issue of this magnitude to lie dormant for 30 years. But, it apparently has."

He wrote that the state's broad interpretation of the amended statute would make illegal a game where chance is any factor at all. And, he wrote, the state did not present enough evidence for him to grant injunctive relief.

So, the case will go to trial.

The state has claimed chance is the overriding decider of who wins or loses money playing Bank Shot.

Its distributors say skill is the overriding factor.

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