Governor Beshear Signs Bill Banning “Gray Machines” In Kentucky

Written By Katarina Vojvodic on March 17, 2023
Governor Bans Gray Machines Kentucky Gambling

Two bills to legalize Kentucky gambling and ban so-called “gray machines” were introduced on Feb. 22. Earlier this week, the committee addressed one of those bills.

On Mar. 16, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear signed HB 594 into law, officially banning unregulated and untaxed “skill” games throughout the Bluegrass State. The bill to ban Kentucky gray machines passed through committee and quickly moved to the Senate floor.

Governor Beshear said:

“I signed the “gray machine” ban this morning. I support gambling generally as a governor and I’ll sign a sports betting bill, but these machines just showed up, unregulated, and moved in. The law is the law.”

The American Gaming Association (AGA) welcomed Beshear’s decision. They noted it a “milestone victory for the legal gaming industry in their fight against illegal gambling.&rd

Kentucky is the first state to pass standalone legislation banning unregulated gambling machines. The Bluegrass State joins Virginia in taking proactive government action to eliminate unregulated games.

Bill to ban illegal Kentucky gambling machines passed Senate

The Kentucky Senate passed HB 594 on Mar. 14 by a 29-6 vote.

Sponsored by Rep. Killian Timoney, HB 594 would ban so-called “gray machines” and make them illegal in Kentucky starting Jul. 1. The bill also implies a $25,000 fine for those who own, operate, finance, supervise or manage a machine. The money collected from fines would go toward the respective county.

Timoney told Fox19: “These machines represent the single largest gambling expansion in Kentucky history, yet they are unauthorized, unregulated, and unaccounted for. We must restore the proper order, empowering the legislature to lead by drafting the laws that precede the addition of gaming in the Commonwealth.”

These machines fall outside of the three forms of legal Kentucky gambling:

  • Kentucky lottery
  • Charitable gaming
  • Parimutuel gambling on horse racing

There is currently no regulation in place on the machines addressed in the bill. And the state doesn’t collect any taxes on them.

Mark Guilfoyle, executive director of Kentuckians Against Illegal Gambling, led support for the bill. His organization represented Kentucky horse racetracks, charitable gaming and four chambers of commerce.

AGA supports Beshear’s decision

Supporting Beshear’s decision, the president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, Bill Miller, released the following note:

“This win is a testament to what we can accomplish when we unite as an industry behind a common cause—and the American Gaming Association will use it as a springboard to pursue similar success in states throughout the country. Not only do these machines harm communities, but they also pose an existential threat to our industry.

Last year, Americans wagered $511 billion with unregulated machines and illegal sportsbooks and online casinos—costing communities more than $13 billion in tax revenue. Combating illegal gambling in all its forms remains one of AGA’s top priorities. We hope you will continue to join us in this fight.”

Photo by Timothy D. Easley, File / AP Photo / illustrated by Playin USA
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Katarina Vojvodic

Katarina Vojvodic is a lead writer for Playin USA who lives in Toronto. Vojvodic provides coverage of the US gambling industry with a focus on US online casinos. Previously, she covered Ontario?s online gambling industry for Vojvodic holds a master?s degree in journalism from the University of Belgrade. Outside working hours, she can be found near the water with her husband and their two kids.

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