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Skill Games


Game of skill refers to any game, contest, or amusement of any description in which the designating element of the outcome is the judgment, skill, or deftness of the participant in the contest and not chance. In a game of skill, outcome is determined mainly by mental or physical skill, rather than by pure chance. [Wedges/Ledges of California v. City of Phoenix, 24 F.3d 56, 63 (9th Cir. 1994)] These types of games encourage the player to look at, understand, and experience things. Games of skill do not fall within the prohibition of the gaming laws.

Predominance Test

The predominance test is the most commonly used indicator of whether a game is skill- or chance-based. Under this test, one must envision a continuum with pure skill on one end and pure chance on the other. On the continuum, games such as chess would be almost at the pure skill end, while traditional slot machines would be at the pure chance end. Between these ends of the spectrum lie many activities containing both elements of skill and chance. A game is classified as a game of skill if the game falls predominantly closer to the skill end of the continuum.

##The Material Element Test

The material element test is the second most commonly used test in the U.S. and is relied upon by 8 states to evaluate whether a game is skill or chance based. The test asks the question of whether chance plays a material role in determining a game’s outcome. As an example, in games like Minesweeper, a great deal of skill is generally exercised by players, but there are moments when players are forced to guess at random, with the results of that guess determining the winner and loser of the game. Skill predominates but chance plays the material role in determining the game’s outcome.