Are Wisconsin “Gasino” Slot Machines Illegal?

gasino-slots-1It seems okay for gas stations to make people pay for charging their mobile phones. But what if these phone chargers are just slot machines (a.k.a. “gasinos”) in disguise?

In Wisconsin, these phone-charger stations are presented as kiosks, where you insert money, then play games while your phone is charging. This sounds harmless enough, but every dollar you put in gives you entries into a sweepstakes where cash prizes are up for grabs. And given that you spin the reels to play the sweepstakes, these seem an awful lot like casino slots – hence the term “gasinos.”

“I get truckers or somebody waiting on food or something. You know, they get to kill time while they make me money,” said Sudhdev Gill, a gas station owner who spoke with FOX6 News.

The news channel spoke with several residents of West Bend, WI, most of whom said they wouldn’t pay more than a dollar to charge their phones. The problem with kiosks at the aforementioned gas stations is that the average player loses $1 per minute playing these games, or $60 an hour.

Let’s compare this with an online slot machine, with, say, 96% payback and a $0.25 minimum bet. Assuming you performed 600 spins an hour (10 per minute), here’s how much you’ll lose on average:

0.04 (house edge) x 600 spins x $0.25 per spin = $6 loss per hour

gasino-slotsAs you can see, these kiosks are charging the average player 10 times what a normal online slot machine would. That said, these games may look like slots, but they pay like the lottery.

Given that commercial slot machines are illegal in Wisconsin, certain lawmakers are trying to shut these gasinos down.

“It seemed like a pretty complicated process just to get that dollar worth of time,” said Representative Jeffrey Mursau, R-Crivitz. “I would say these machines are put in specifically for reasons other than charging your phone.”

The only question is how long it will take lawmakers to prove that these aren’t regular phone chargers, but instead casinos in disguise.