The proprietors of a new business that may open in Ravenna hope people will take advantage of a new twist in gaming -- the chance to know what you'll win before you even put a nickel in the machine.
"These machines give the feeling of the Las Vegas experience without the risk of gambling," said Mike Lemke, software developer for "Winners Choice," which hopes to open in a storefront at 966 E. Main St. "You don't have to put any money in the games in order to know if you're a winner."
The Ravenna Planning Commission recently discussed the proposal, brought by Curby Consulting Corporation. A public hearing on the proposal is expected to be set in August.
The business hopes to locate in a shopping center across from Giant Eagle on Ravenna's east side, though it's still not clear which unit the business would occupy.
Lemke said the state is reviewing pre-reveal games like the ones he developed for the Ravenna business. The games, he said, tell people whether the next game will be a winner, and how much will be paid out. This, he said, means the game is neither a game of skill nor a game of chance.
However, he said, that will never change unless somebody plays the game. So people are often willing to risk a small amount in hopes that the next game will be a winner.
"A lot of the people who come into the rooms are seniors," Lemke said. "They're there for the social interaction."
Lemke described small contributions and small payouts, with most people spending less than $20 in the time they spend there. In the event that somebody wins more than $600, that person will be issued a 1099 for tax purposes. Sometimes, a local business will cater lunch for patrons, who have access to soft drinks, but not alcohol.
City Engineer Bob Finney said the business falls under the city's ordinance on gaming, with license fees applying to the business itself and to each machine.
James Curby, an owner of the business and a police officer in Streetsboro, said a similar business is in operation next to Taco Bell in that city, with no apparent problems. He plans to have 7 to 9 employees, who would handle payouts for up to 60 machines.
"Our intention is to do a good business and not have any problems with the city," he said.
Lemke said the machines would pay out some type of reward about 90 percent of the time, similar to machines at large casinos. However, both the cost of the game and the eventual rewards are smaller.
He said most casinos tend to have the games on the end of each aisle pay out a little more often, so people walking by will see that machine as a winner.
"Other than that, there's no system," he said. "You can't beat the machine."