Lawsuit Claims Chuck E. Cheese’s Contains Illegal Gambling Machines

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SAN DIEGO (CBS13) – A Southern California mother has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Chuck E. Cheese’s franchise that she claims promotes gambling and puts children at risk for developing gambling addictions.

San Diego resident Denise Keller filed a class action lawsuit against CEC Entertainment, a company that owns Chuck E. Cheese’s family restaurants, alleging that many of the ticket-dispensing games found in restaurants are games of chance, not skill, and therefore are illegal under California’s anti-gambling laws.

The lawsuit seeks damages of “not less than” $5 million, according to court documents.

The civil action claims several popular games found in the restaurants are “based entirely or predominantly on chance or hazard,” with little chance of the player affecting the outcome.

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“Thunderation consists of a vertical spinning wheel with numerous prongs protruding from it,” the lawsuit states. “The token then randomly bounces off of the spinning prongs until it is eventually dropped into one of the buckets at the bottom of the wheel.”

The plaintiff accuses the restaurants of operating slot machines and says “[y]oung people are especially vulnerable to the attractions of gambling.”

“The fact that the stakes are relatively low is of no consequence to a child,” the lawsuit adds.

Child psychologist Dr. Debra Moore greeted the claims with skepticism and said the accusations don’t appear to have much of a foundation.

“It feels like age-appropriate play, where kids are not even thinking about gambling,” Moore said. “They are having a wonderful time.”

Neither company residents nor the plaintiff’s attorney returned requests for comment Monday.

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