Quick Charge Kiosks, a gaming company in Wisconsin adjusted video gambling devices and enabled them to provide charging services to mobile phones, and quickly sold this idea to dozens of convenience stores and gas stations in Milwaukee.
The company was established by West Bend resident Jeremy Hahn’s who thought he had come up with a brilliant idea.
The kiosks, called “Pow’r Up”, charged $1 for every minute of charging. Customers could also purchase credits to play a game of chance for more than $100 in prizes. The machines have been reported as paying out 65% of the money spent on them.
Wisconsin Attorney General seized the kiosks, stating that they were in violation of gambling rules. Hahn sued, contending that the machines are more similar to in-pack chance promotions like those employed in fast food restaurants than to gambling.
The case went all the way up to the Supreme Court who unanimously affirmed the Attorney General’s judgment.
According to Justice Brian Hagedorn, the exception granted to fast food restaurants applied because their promotions were classified as lotteries. The machines Quick Charge Kiosks were using were clearly gambling machines and not lotteries, which would mean that the exception for in-pack chance promotions would not apply.
Judge Hagedorn noted that the kiosk’s players had to exercise their personal deliberation to risk the credits they purchased for larger prizes. The purchase of credits is not simply for the purpose of acquiring the credits per se, but expressly for the purpose of obtaining a higher value by chance. Due to this clear exchange of value in pursuit of a chance for even more value, Hagedorn stated that the kiosks are rightfully classified as gambling.
Hagedorn said that Hahn would have a stronger case if players could use the machines for free under some arrangement with the store or its employees. Even then, it would still be difficult for Hahn to prove that his machines should not be treated as gambling devices, as it was clear that they could conceivably be used for that purpose, whether Hahn intended it or not.
Hahn’s In-State Options Exhausted
This appears to be the final word on Hahn’s lawsuit. Previously, Milwaukee Circuit Judge John DiMotto granted summary judgment toward the state’s position, which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. The most recent Supreme Court judgment affirmed this position, which exhausts Hahn’s options within the state.
Deep down Hahn may not be too surprised at the ruling as even he admitted that it was an ingenuous concept.