Quick Charge Kiosk, LLC v. Josh Kaul (Gambling Statutes)

In Quick Charge Kiosk, LLC v. Josh Kaul (2020 WI 54), a unanimous Wisconsin Supreme Court held that gaming and cell phone charging machines operated by Quick Charge violate Wisconsin gambling statutes.

The Quick Charge machines allow customers who insert a dollar in the machine to receive one minute of charging time and 100 credits to play the video chance game. After the charging time expires, customers can no longer play the game but can redeem their remaining credits for cash at the same rate for which they paid for the credits ($1 for 100 credits). Certain kiosks require the user to play the video chance game at least once.

Some municipalities attempted to remove the Quick Charge machines because they believed the machines were illegal gambling devices. In this case, Quick Charge filed an action seeking a declaratory judgment that the machines are in compliance with Wisconsin’s gambling statutes. The state Department of Justice moved for summary judgment, asking the court to declare the machines unlawful.

Quick Charge argued its machines are “in-pack chance promotions” and therefore should be exempt from gambling statutes. Lottery statutes in Wis. Stat. § 100.16(2) exempt “in-pack chance promotions,” and Quick Charge contended that this exemption should apply to its machines too.

The court disagreed and instead determined the Quick Charge machines are illegal gambling machines under § 945.01(3). The statutes’ prohibition on gambling machines does not include the same exception for in-pack chance promotions as it does for lotteries. Because the Quick Charge machines give players the opportunity to insert money for the chance to win something of value, they meet the definition of illegal gambling machines under Wisconsin law.