Lawsuit: Chuck E. Cheese “Operating Illegal Gambling Business”

Written by:
Jagajeet Chiba
Published on:
Chuck E. Cheese Gambling

The Chuck E. Cheese restaurant franchise is being sued for operating what one parent calls “illegal gambling businesses”. 

The chain of family entertainment centers caters mostly to pre-adolescent kids. 

Denise Keller, the mother of two daughters, claims in her lawsuit that traditional games of skill offered at the restaurant such as skee-ball and whack-a-mole were being replaced by kiddie versions of slot machines. 

Her class action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Southern California on March 29 against Chuck E. Cheese parent company, CEC Entertainment, Inc., which is based in Topeka, Kansas.  Chuck E. Cheese itself is headquartered in Irving, Texas. 

Ms. Keller’s lawsuit, filed by the law firm of firm Krause Kalfayan Benink & Slavens,claims that “many games found at Chuck E. Cheese’s’s restaurants are illegal gambling devices that require little or no skill and are predominantly games of chance, much like a roulette wheel. With rare exception (none of which exist here), gambling is illegal in California.”

Keller is seeking restitution and an injunction prohibiting the restaurant chain from offering the cited devices. 

Attorney Eric Benink says that the games in question come with flashing lights that are similar to those found in a typical casino and the games themselves offer no opportunity to “improve one’s skill” since they only incorporate “chance”. 

“There was no fun involved in the game other than an opportunity to win a prize,” Benink said. He added, “It’s just pure random luck in terms of spinning out a result. That, we believe, is a slot machine as California penal code spells out.”

This is not the first lawsuit against Chuck E. Cheese for offering such devices in its restaurant/entertainment outlets. 

A handful of suits have previously been filed in Southern states whereby Alabama already ruled allowing such games with prizes violated state gambling laws. 

A Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that laws barring “games of chance” with prizes indeed applied to restaurant chains like Chuck E. Cheese.   However, attorneys for the company argued that games such as skee-ball were “chance-related” and therefore not subject to state gambling laws.  Mississippi later exempted such games from the law.

Benink argues that such devices could ultimately lead to gambling addiction in small children that carries on into adulthood. 

“Early exposure to gambling increases one’s chances of being a gambling addict later in life,” Benink said.

- Jagajeet Chiba,

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