Multiple States Examining Dave & Buster’s Plans to Introduce Gambling Options

MGCB and other regulators have stated their opinions on the proposal, suggesting that the Dave & Buster’s plan may be in violation of state gambling laws.
May 20, 2024

The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) and a number of other gambling regulators in states like Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Ohio have expressed concerns over the recently announced plans by arcade gaming giant Dave & Buster’s.

According to reports, Dave & Buster’s is looking to allow its customers over the age of 18 to place real money bets on the outcome of their arcade experiences, the legality of which is seriously questionable.

The MGCB was the first regulator to speak out on the issue and reiterate how seriously they take illegal gambling, while maintaining that the exact legality of the plans is still unknown as insufficient information has been provided thus far.

What Is Dave & Buster’s Planning?

The exact details behind the new Dave & Buster’s strategy are not known, but early reports are saying that the company is looking to allow players over the age of 18 to place bets on the various arcade games offered in the hundreds of Dave and Buster’s locations across the country.

Customers would apparently be allowed to wager up to $10 on each play of some of the most popular arcade games and the bets would be tracked via the Dave & Buster’s mobile app.

Whether players would be competing against others or chasing certain scores to win their bets remains unknown at this time, but it is clear that what the company is proposing resembles gambling quite closely.

In fact, some states like Ohio already have laws in place pertaining to legality of offering prizes on skill-based amusement machines, and it appears that such a plan would be in violation of such laws.

Before Dave & Buster’s can move forward with any plan, the company will need to get some opinions from the various state regulators, which could come within the next couple of months, provided more information is offered by the arcade games operator.

State Regulators Respond to Plans

Michigan is not the only state in which new Dave & Buster’s plans were put under scrutiny, as Ohio and Pennsylvania regulators also spoke out.

In neighboring Ohio, the regulators have said that the proposal seems to be in opposition to local laws: “The Commission does have serious concerns about the proposal — including that it appears to violate Ohio law regarding the facilitating of illegal prizes for skill-based amusement machines. We are reaching out to Dave & Buster’s for additional information.”

In Illinois, a Representative has already introduced a bill looking to block any action by Dave & Buster’s that would allow players to make real money bets on arcade games, while the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) confirmed it is looking into the situation but has not expressed any concerns just yet.

In either case, gambling regulators nation-wide appear to be in agreement that the Dave & Buster’s proposal would be opposed to multiple laws and not within the scope of what arcades are allowed to offer their customers.

What Happens Next?

At this time, Dave & Buster’s has not added any betting options to any of its machines, which means the company is not breaking any state or federal laws.

Moving forward, it is unlikely the company will move forward with any such plans without a clear green light from state regulators, which currently seems unlikely to come.

The MGCB in particular has been on the offensive against any parlors offering illegal gambling machines, having removed 167 such devices last month alone and warned multiple businesses against operating them.

With regulators around the nation paying close attention, Dave & Buster’s will surely only go forward with their plans in any states that explicitly issue permissions for such activity.

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