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Texas Courts Wrestle with 8-Liners' Legality

12 September 2002

AUSTIN, Texas – As reported by the Dallas Morning News: "The Texas Supreme Court wrestled Wednesday with the sticky issues of whether gift certificates offered as prizes by eight-liners, which resemble slot machines, are legal and whether the state or the machine owner has the burden to prove that the machines are legal.

"The high court was not asked to address directly the question of whether the machines themselves are legal.

"The court, instead, was to consider which of two lower courts was correct in contradictory rulings in connection with the confiscation of several dozen eight-liners in Burnet and Johnson counties three years ago.

"…In August 1999, a Burnet jury found that 32 eight-liners confiscated at one facility were not illegal gambling devices. The 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin upheld that decision.

"About a week later, a Johnson County court-at-law judge held that similar machines confiscated at Game Time Amusements were illegal – a ruling affirmed by a Waco appeals court.

"…`At the end of the day, there is cash for merchandise,' said Justice Harriet O'Neill, noting the game room operators must pay for the gift certificates they hand out to the players.

"`What's the difference between taking a $5 bill and a $5 gift certificate?' asked Justice Wallace Jefferson.

"The justices also questioned whether allowing players to combine gift certificates to claim more expensive items at department stores, furniture stores and service stations violates the $5-per-play prize limit…"

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