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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — A bill to outlaw so-called skilled games, which some call gray machines, passed the Kentucky House of Representatives 64-32 on Wednesday.

The bill passed with little debate after seeming to suffer a major setback last week when the House tabled it.

If House Bill 594 navigates the Senate and becomes law, thousands of machines operating under trade names like Burning Barrel and Wildcat will be outlawed.

The machines, which accept cash to play and offer cash payouts to successful players, have proliferated at restaurants, bars, veterans halls and truck stops.

Game manufacturers such as Tennessee-based Pace-O-Matic and hundreds of small businesses are pushing instead to regulate and tax the games.

"It’s unfortunate that even after so many Kentucky small business owners contacted their legislators about the benefits of skill games, and even after it became clear that many House members were not in favor of voting on this legislation last week, that several lawmakers decided to call HB594 for a vote and pass it today,” said Lexington business owner Wes Jackson, head of the Kentucky Merchants and Amusement Coalition, which backs the skill games.

Jackson said the vote shows the influence of Louisville-based Churchill Downs Inc. in Frankfort.

The horse racing industry, which operates slots-like historical horse racing games at casino-style venues like Churchill's Derby City Gaming, is funding an interest group called Kentuckians Against Illegal Gambling, which is leading the charge against the so-called skill games.

"Passing HB 594 is the only certain and viable option to prevent every restaurant, gas station and convenience store in the Commonwealth from becoming a mini casino — bringing robberies, underage gambling, and violent crime to our communities," said Mark Guilfoyle, executive director of Kentuckians Against Illegal Gambling. 

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