Gambling and Video Games: Should It Be Legal?

Southern California police are cracking down on “slaphouses,” where people sit down at multi game arcade machines and bet thousands of dollars into the wee morning hours. There is a prevalence of alcohol and drug use as well. Orange County’s Little Saigon, a Vietnamese community, contains dozens of these homes. They get their “slaphouse” name from the sound of the gambling gamers banging their hands on the buttons – a sound so loud it can be heard outside.

How Did the “Slaphouse” Originate?

Vietnamese coffee shops in the Little Saigon area used to house many different arcade games that looked normal, but were actually rigged to switch to blackjack and poker. The activity attracted gangs and drug dealers. Laws were passed in 2011 that banned arcade games from coffee shops and police raided the stores, seizing the machines and cash.

Since then, the arcade gambling has moved to residential areas, which make it harder for police to detect and shut down, since warrants are required to enter a private home and neighbors are less likely to complain due to fear of the criminals involved in the activity.

When is Gambling and Gaming an Acceptable Combination?

It’s clear that the combination of gambling and gaming isn’t going away. And while police continue to shut down illegal operations, whether located at a coffee shop or a home, developers are trying to merge the two hobbies into one by creating arcade-style casino games – they just have to get them approved first.

As a rule, it’s a new development to have skill-based games included in casino offerings. Typically, slot machines do not involve skill whatsoever. But with languishing casino attendance from members of the millennial generation, everyone involved in the casino industry is hoping that lawmakers allow some sort of skill-based games on casino floors. They believe it will be a huge draw for the younger crowd.

With Nevada and New Jersey paving the way, will other states follow and allow developers to bring popular, skill-based games to casinos across the nation? Will this have a stifling effect on California’s “slaphouses?” Regardless, gambling and video games are two popular pastimes that are both here to stay.