Virginia, DC concerned by new digital betting games


Arcade games have been some of the most popular forms of electronic entertainment for two generations now. Companies have made billions of dollars from these games, and a general love of these games has led gambling machine manufacturers to combine them with gambling, and that is what Dragon Ascent is all about.

virginia-dc-concerned-by-new-digital-betting-gamesHowever, not everyone thinks this is a good idea. Lawmakers in both D.C. and Virginia are concerned about the game and are wondering if it should be allowed at all.

The problem is that many are questioned whether this is a game of skill or a game of chance. There is a significant difference between the two in terms of what is lawful but the question may be moot.

The games have much the same appeal as an arcade game. There are joysticks as players compete to shoot down colorful dragons darting across the screen. However, instead of winning points to be crowned the champion, players can win money as their reward. It’s the perfect solution for users who have spent years playing these types of games.

The reality is that this game also includes elements of gambling, and already appears in over 6000 convenience stores in Virginia alone. That does not even include the thousands of other machines that are found in gas stations, restaurants, bars, and other locations. It is getting to the point where it may be too late to do anything about this even if lawmakers deem it as an illegal activity.

Pace-O-Matic, the manufacturer of Dragon Ascent, is fighting back. They fully recognize the right of lawmakers to tax and regulate the game, but do not believe that they have done anything to deserve their machine banned. They point out that this game does rely on skill, but also is a game of chance, which fits the legal definition under the law.

“We take chance out of the equation. And that’s the main difference between our games and a typical slot machine or gambling device. If you’re skillful and patient, you can win all the time,” explained Mike Barley, a spokesman for Pace-O-Matic.

Barley also points out that the game has been great for local establishments. “What they’ve found is that it draws in their people, and they just stay longer. Rather than coming in for 10 minutes and having a sandwich or a beer, they may stay a little bit longer and have another drink. It’s allowing these businesses to grow.”

However, not everyone is seeing this just as an enjoyable activity. Especially in light of the fact that other manufacturers are creating similar games, meaning the market may be flooded with these kinds of games soon.

“None of them are regulated, licensed or taxed. And they are here in large numbers and they are cannibalizing lottery sales and profits,” says Ken Hall, the executive director of the Virginia Lottery. “This is an industry that has a very colorful history of seeking to exploit loopholes and openings in order to flood into the market and make as much money as fast as they can before regulations catch up with them.”

Barkley appears to be on the right side of the law, however. He approached regulators for approval before bringing the game to market, which may mean that state lawmakers have little recourse to do anything about the game.