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Published: Wednesday, 8/29/2007

Court refuses to decide state's fight over game


COLUMBUS - A state appeals court yesterday handed Attorney General Marc Dann a legal setback in his fight over electronic gambling machines in bars and other businesses.

Mr. Dann had sought to overturn a judge's order last week stopping the state from enforcing a ban on Tic-Tac-Fruit machines. But a three-judge panel of the 10th Ohio District Court of Appeals said the temporary restraining order must be resolved by a lower court.

Leo Jennings, a spokesman for Mr. Dann, said the attorney general would try to remove the order in Franklin County Common Pleas Court today.

At issue is whether Tic-Tac-Fruit, in which bettors try to line up pieces of fruit on a video screen, is a game of skill, as proponents claim, or a game of chance, which is illegal in Ohio.

Mr. Dann ordered last week the shutdown of 50,000 machines. On Friday, a judge granted the order blocking the move to Ohio Skill Games Inc., which distributes the game Tic-Tac-Fruit.

Mr. Dann argues that allowing Tic-Tac-Fruit machines to operate, even temporarily, would bring neighborhood degradation, gambling addiction, prostitution, and other social ills associated with gambling.

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