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Video game stokes debate over skill vs. chance

In bars and taverns across Nebraska, players are pumping money into a video game that looks like a slot machine, sounds like a slot machine and promises thousand-dollar jackpots like a slot machine. But the flashy game known as Bank Shot is not a slot machine. Upon that everyone can agree. Beyond that lie confusion and consternation.

Opponents of the machine say it violates the spirit of Nebraska's gambling laws and unfairly competes with existing games, such as pickle cards and keno. Law enforcement officials say an investigation into the machines proved inconclusive, as two experts disagreed about their legality. The makers of the machine counter that it is a game of skill that is no different from a game of Trivial Pursuit or a dart tournament sponsored by a bar or tavern. They also argue that the video game was carefully constructed to comply with Nebraska law. "It's a puzzle game. It's not a relaxing, hit a button and wait for something to happen game," said John Fox, president of the game developer, American Amusements Inc. in Bellevue.

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