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Vendor pays $1M fine for rigged game machines in Tucson, elsewhere

A vendor of Sega Key Master game machines has agreed to pay $1 million to settle consumer fraud charges laid by Arizona’s attorney general.

A coin-operated game that offered high-priced prizes in malls and stores across Arizona was illegally rigged against players, and the vendor that supplied them has agreed to pay $1 million to settle consumer fraud charges, the state attorney general says.

The Sega Key Master game machines, filled with loot like iPads and $300 headphones, purported to offer a game of skill that anyone could potentially win.

Instead, the devices were set so that up to 2,200 players had to lose before the prize-dispensing function kicked in, Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a news release Wednesday.

That means the machines were actually offering a game of chance comparable to slot machines, which are only legal in licensed casinos, the news release said.

“Under Arizona law, outside of casinos, it is illegal for gaming machines to have settings that permit an operator to alter the odds of participants winning the game,” Brnovich said.

The machines, about 3 feet wide by 6 feet tall, cost a dollar to play and have three rows of “keyholes” positioned over prizes. Players, who often are children, would use a joystick and button to try to guide a mechanical key into the keyhole next to the prize of their choice.

Only one former Tucson game location was listed in court records, at the El Super grocery store at 3372 S. 6th Ave.

The state announced a consent settlement Wednesday with Betson Coin-Op Distributing Company, Inc. the New Jersey-based vendor that procured about 25 of the game machines for companies in Arizona between 2011 and 2013.

The company did not acknowledge wrongdoing but agreed to pay the state $1 million and is banned from selling or leasing any more of the game machines in Arizona.

Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at 573-4138 or calaimo@tucson.com. On Twitter: @AZStarConsumer


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