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Quick Charge Kiosk LLC v. Kaul–Statutory Interpretation

On June 12, a unanimous Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that Quick Charge’s kiosks met the definition of illegal gambling machines under Wisconsin’s gambling statues in accordance with statutory interpretation.

The case arose after the Wisconsin attorney general and law enforcement shut down Quick Charge’s charging kiosks as illegal gambling machines. For a dollar, users of the kiosks could charge their cell phones and play a game of chance to earn money. Quick Charge sued the attorney general in his official capacity, claiming the kiosks did not meet the statutory definition of gambling machines since they either fell under an exception or did not meet the definition at all.

In particular, Quick Charge pointed to two provisions in Wisconsin’s gambling statutes, one of which included an exception for “in-pack chance promotions.” Quick Charge contended the same exception should apply to gambling machines. (And that alternatively, the kiosks were not gambling machines because there was a way to play without providing money.)

The court ruled against both arguments, noting first:

“It is true that when a particular term is used throughout a chapter, we usually understand it to carry the same meaning each time….But this principle only applies absent textual or structural clues to the contrary. Here contrary clues abound.”

“This textual language is far more than a tip; it is a dead giveaway. The legislature explicitly excluded in-pack chance promotions from the definition of an illegal lottery, but not an illegal gambling machine. The natural reading, and indeed the only reasonable one, is that the legislature meant the exception to apply to lotteries, and not gambling machines.”

Quick Charge Kiosk LLC v. Kaul, 2020 WI 54, ¶¶ 15, 17 (internal citations OMITTED).

And finally:

“[W]hen paying for the chance to win something of value, the consideration element is undoubtedly met. Simply because a kiosk has uses other than illegal gambling does not negate that reality.”

Id., ¶ 21

Read the full case here.