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Chuck E. Cheese’s is known as a family-friendly chain of restaurants filled with arcade games that keep kids entertained. However, one California woman believes that the chain is actually teaching kids to gamble at an early age.
According to Debbie Keller, a real estate agent from San Diego and mother of two children aged 3 and 5, many of the games in the restaurants are just as much gambling games as slot machines and roulette wheels are. Keller is suing the chain for damages and restitution of $5 million or more. However, her attorney, Eric Binink, told the San Diego Union Tribune that the main goal of the lawsuit is to get these games out of Chuck E. Cheese’s arcades.
“We don’t think that children should be exposed to casino-style gambling devices at an arcade,” Binink said.
The games in question don’t pay out cash prizes to kids. Rather, players insert 25 cent tokens into machines, many of which have games that take just a few seconds to play and give players tickets depending on the result. Players can then collect tickets and redeem them for prizes, with more valuable prizes costing more tickets.
The restaurant chain, of course, denies these charges, and is looking to have the lawsuit dismissed. They maintain that the games are legal under California law. A federal judge has yet to issue a ruling.
According to a selection of quotes gathered by The Huffington Post, both experts on gambling and patrons of the restaurants are mixed on whether or not any of these games could actually inspire a gambling addition in children. For instance, Bob Cabiness, a gambling addiction expert, was quoted as saying that the awarding of tickets means that there are no losses to chase or any ability to “win back” your money – differentiating the psychological impact these games have when compared to casino games.
However, Cabiness did share the story of a woman in Gamblers Anonymous who was addicted to the “claw” game in which players try to grab prizes using a claw-like device – behavior others have claimed to see in their children, too.
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