Business owners and advocates for social halls, local restaurants and neighborhood taverns are praising a Senate Bill 1065, a bipartisan piece of the legislation aimed at ensuring a vital revenue stream stays in place for these businesses as they continue to face financial hardships. 

This is a bill critical to the financial success of businesses across Michigan, making it especially important to know what’s the truth and what is a myth about redemption games.  

Myth: The bill legalizes games that have previously been illegal. 

Truth: The legislation does not legalize games that have been illegal in the past.  Redemption Games are legal under current Michigan law as long as the game requires a player to apply “skill” in order to win a prize. Slot machines and other casino games that are based entirely on chance and require no application of skill and are, and remain, illegal (except in a licensed casino) under the proposed legislation. The proposed legislation clarifies the existing law by providing an understandable, workable definition of the skill needed to win the game; that has been lacking until now. 

Myth: The legislation establishes a new form of gaming in Michigan.   

Truth: Michigan has allowed the form of gaming known as “Redemption Gaming” since 1997 when the Legislature approved such games as an exception in the Penal Code.  Rather than allowing a new form of gaming, the proposed legislation offers important clarifications to the current law.  The clarifications are intended to help bars, restaurants and social halls (e.g., American Legion, VFW, FOE, Elks, etc.) to clearly understand what is and is not allowed in their establishments. 

Myth: Redemption Gaming will lead to more crime in bars and taverns.    

Truth: The proposed legislation will not lead to more crime.  In fact, the proposed legislation will reduce crime. People often confuse legitimate Redemption Gaming conducted in bars and taverns with a form of illegal gambling conducted in so called “sweepstakes parlors” or “internet cafes.”  Such establishments, which often appear and disappear quickly in strip malls or vacant store fronts, offer games that require no element of skill.  The games in such establishments are casino-style slot machines.  The operators of these parlors offer cash or gift cards as prizes.  The proposed legislation strictly prohibits an award of cash as a prize.  Additionally, the legislation limits the number of game machines offering gift cards as prizes to eight machines.  The prohibition against cash prizes and the limitation on the number of machines renders the operation of a sweepstakes parlor or internet café financially unfeasible.