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They say Chuck E. Cheese is where a kid can be a kid. But if you're Debbie Keller, it's a place where a kid might develop a gambling problem.
Keller, a mother of a three-year-old and a five-year-old, is suing the popular arcade-style restaurant for promoting gambling addictions in children. She believes that many of the restaurant's games aimed at children are actually illegal gambling devices and is therefore seeking $5 million. Keller's attorney, Eric Binink, told the San Diego Union Tribune that the lawsuit's real purpose is to prevent the company from keeping the machines in its game rooms. “We don't think that children should be exposed to casino-style gambling devices at an arcade,” Benink said, adding that the games take only a few seconds to play and some of them feature a roulette-style wheel.
According to the complaint, many of the games in these rooms are operated by inserting tokens, which can be purchased for 25 cents each. When the games are finished, they dispense tickets that can be redeemed for prizes. The lawsuit notes that with some exceptions, gambling is illegal in California but the penal code makes an exception for games that are predominantly based on skill. That’s not the case with the games at Chuck E. Cheese’s, according to Keller, who claims in the court documents that she has taken her own children on numerous occasions to the restaurant’s location in La Mesa’s Grossmont Center.