Video Slots

April 6, 1999

In the last two sessions of the Texas legislature there have been attempts to ban video slots, often called 8-Liners. Although law enforcement considers these to be illegal gambling devices, they continue to flourish anyway.

At first glance these devices don't look that much different from a video game. But they are different. They can be found in convenience stores, restaurants, bowling alleys, bars, truck stops, and even shopping mall video arcades. Some are five-foot upright models. Others can sit on a bar counter. All of them have a video display screen and a panel of buttons on the front of the machine for play.

They differ from other video games because they encourage gambling. They involve chance, not skill. Winning and losing are determined by a random number generator in the machine. The machines have internal retention and payout meters. Credits are purchased, bet, and accumulated. Most of the machines even have a double-up feature where credits won can be doubled. Cash, gift certificates, or prizes are paid for credits accumulated.

They exist because they look enough like video games that they don't offend the sensibilities of patrons who would consider them to be nothing more than Las Vegas slot machines. And I guess that's the point. The gambling industry has apparently found a way to sneak slot machine-like gambling to the state of Texas through these machines. And the reason it's so easy, is because so much gambling is already here: pari-mutual betting, state lotteries, etc.

I hope the Texas legislature bans these machines and at the same time reconsiders the other forms of legalized gambling in the state. Gambling of any kind is bad social policy, bad economic policy, and bad moral policy. To put it simply, legalized gambling is a bad bet.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.