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Issue Date: Vol. 54, No. 7, July 2014, Posted On: 7/11/2014

Operators Contest Maryland's New Amusement Rules At Public Hearing

Hank Schlesinger
TAGS: Maryland coin-op law, Maryland Amusement and Music Operators Association, Maryland State Lottery Commission, amusement game regulation, prize game rules, Larry Bershtein, coin-operated device, coin machine operator

ANNAPOLIS, MD -- The Maryland Amusement and Music Operators Association said some 40 coin-op professionals attended a public hearing to oppose the Maryland lottery commission's proposed rules that would restrict coin-operated amusement devices.

As the Maryland fight continues to heat up, the issue has become more clouded. According to a source close to the regulatory conflict, the new rules, as reported in local papers, differ from the wording in the actual legislation. The source also noted that commission officials have been quoted in the media making statements that are either evasive or contrary to the proposed regulations. The fact that now one seems able to report the proposed rules clearly indicates there are issues that need to be addressed, the source said.

"It's a pretty crazy thing," said MAMOA president Larry Bershtein. "We have the State Lottery Commission, which seems to have overstepped its bounds in terms of legislative intent, and in statutory authority."

The current conflict began in 2012 when the regulation of coin-op skill games was placed under the state lottery's authority. Once given the authority, the commission began an effort to impose legal guidelines on games and their operators. Said to be among the most restrictive in the nation, the new regulations appear to legally lump coin-op cranes and other skill games with gambling devices. Opponents of the regulations call them highly inappropriate and unnecessarily restrictive.

Despite the strong turnout by the coin-op community, the June 27 meeting was unproductive, Bershtein reported. Officials refused to answer questions and seemed unmoved by arguments opposing the new regulations. The next move, MAMOA president said, is to challenge the regulatory process.

Should the new MAMOA strategy fail, Bershtein warned, the new regulations could go into effect as early as July 28.

For additional information, call Bershtein at (301) 762-8585 or email larry@mamoa.org.

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