What ARE VLTs?
By staff
Identifying the differences, or not, between slot machines and video lottery terminals, “is one of the crucial issues in a challenge to the legality of the state's plan to set up the [VLTs] at most horse racing tracks in the state.” The controversy stems from critics, in the state legislature, of the 2001 state gambling law, who remain opposed to the machines as they deem them (at least in appearance and essence) “slot machines.”

Neil Murray, a lawyer representing an anti-gambling coalition posed against VLTs in various civil suits, called the issue simple. Classic slot machines, Murray said, he described as the “one-armed bandits that have been the backbone of casinos in Nevada, New Jersey, Connecticut and elsewhere, [which] are indistinguishable from VLTs. To identify differences is [only] a ‘classic exercise’ in semantics, Murray said.

Murray added that, “A ‘VLT’ is a device that in and of itself is a slot machine.” Murray explained that a “slot machine” per se “is a slot machine because it is implemented and operated by inserting something of value and something of value is provided.”

Does not that also describe a candy or a soft drink machine?

Pro -VLT forces, understandably, do not agree with Murray’s point of view. Among their champions is New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and his office, in aid of gaming industry lawyers and racetrack operators. The pro-gambler authorities argue that VLTs are simply “a clever way of dressing up what at its core is a lottery game.”

Perhaps any distinction between slot machines and VLTs will be held or decided only in the minds of those using VLTs, or slot machines, or both.

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