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California Mom Slaps $5m Lawsuit at Chuck E. Cheese's for Teaching Children to Gamble

Debbie Keller, a San Diego mom of 2 preschool aged kids, says the popular children’s entertainment venue/restaurant chain, Chuck E. Cheese's, is more or less teaching children to gamble by using illegal gambling equipment , modified to the tastes of children. She wants them to stop and is hoping her lawsuit will give the company 5 million reasons to do so.

Debbie Keller says that the games that Chuck E. Cheese's provides for its grade school and below audience are little better than training wheel slot machines that give young children a first taste of gambling.

Although California law allows for prize based games based on player skill, Keller says that many of the games at the popular kids’ restaurants are little more than casino style games, whereby a child buys a ticket, then spins a roulette style wheel or pulls a slot machine style lever – in the hopes of winning a prize.

Although she’s suing the restaurant group for a jury trial and a substantial 5 million dollars in damages, her lawyer, Eric Benink, says money’s not the reason behind the suit. He says Keller hopes to force the restaurants to remove the casino style games from their operations, stating, “We don’t think that children should be exposed to casino-style gambling devices at an arcade.”

In the text of the lawsuit, Keller argues that casino style games for kids might well increase a child’s risk of one day developing a gambling problem, writing that “(the games) create the same highs and lows experienced by adults who gamble their paychecks or the mortgage payment.”

Attorneys for the restaurant group have asked the judge to throw out the case, and say that anyway -  even if their games constitute illegal gambling, Keller has admitted to going and playing several times, which makes her a party to the illegal act and so unqualified to seek damages or restitution on that act.

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