A judge stopped the state Friday from enforcing an order that prohibits bars and other businesses from using electronic gambling machines, lawyers in the case said.
The temporary restraining order, granted by Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Guy Reece, allows the 27 Lorain County establishments operating with the “Tic Tac Fruit” game to continue.
The game, in which bettors try to line up pieces of fruit on a video screen, is distributed by Ohio Skill Games Inc. Carol Strickland, co-owner of Sidelines Sports Grill in Elyria, said that while she’s seen as much as $2,000 awarded to her customers, whether or not the game stays is of little consequence to business.
“I’ve done fine before, and I’ll do fine again,” she said. “My livelihood does not depend on that machine.”
Strickland said her regulars have kept her business alive.
The same doesn’t translate as well for Ohio Vending’s president Roy Fankhauser. He said his company serves about half of the establishments in the county, and relies on Tic Tac Fruit to drive business.
“It would cripple us,” he said. “This game has brought employment to people and helped bars survive. This is a 100 percent skill-based machine. What about all those poor saps who play the lottery?”
Attorney General Marc Dann plans to appeal the restraining order, spokeswoman Jennifer Brindisi said.
William Meeks, an attorney for the distributor and owner Jeff Mayle, said the order was necessary to prevent “irreparable harm” as the issue is headed for a trial in another court to determine the legality of “Tic Tac Fruit.”
Gov. Ted Strickland authorized Dann on Wednesday to issue an emergency rule on the electronic gambling machines burgeoning at bars, storefronts and fraternal clubs.
Dann followed up by issuing 700 letters statewide ordering 50,000 of the machines shut down within the next three days. Strickland said the number of machines he and Dann believe to be illegal under Ohio’s ban on games of chance has more than doubled from 20,000 to 50,000 in the past six months.
In June, Strickland and Dann proposed a bill banning cash prizes from electronic tabletop machines and placing a $10 cap on the value of one-time non-cash prizes such as award tickets or prize vouchers at venues such as Chuck E. Cheese’s, Dave & Buster’s or Cedar Point.