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    Georgia Retailers Hit the Jackpot

    Judge strikes down state's ban on video poker.


    ATLANTA -- A judge overturned Georgia's new law against video-poker machines Monday, saying the legislation that sought to ban Las Vegas-style games from bars and convenience stores posed "a real threat to liberty."

    Fulton County Superior Court Judge John Goger, who earlier had issued a restraining order preventing the law from taking effect Jan. 1, ruled that the ban was unconstitutional.

    "The law criminalizes a game when it is being played and operated as a game. This is the sort of lawmaking which poses a real threat to liberty," the judge wrote in his opinion.

    Georgia in 2001 passed a law banning video games. Gaming companies and retailers immediately sued charging that it violated basic property rights. The Georgia law made it illegal to own or operate video machines featuring poker, keno and casino slot-machine-style games of chance.

    Georgia is among a handful of southern states that have moved to ban or curtail the coin-operated video gaming machines, which are found in thousands of convenience stores and bars throughout the region.

    In addition to South Carolina, North Carolina has also restricted their use.

    A Georgia Bureau of Investigation report last year said there were about 20,000 machines in the state, generating at least $1 billion a year in revenues, Reuters reported.

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