Skill Games or slot machines? One Denver arcade is reportedly blurring the lines

  • La Fortuna in Denver, Colorada is reportedly offering the best skill games in town
  • Local news organisations reports games to give cash prizes and be similar to slots

La Fortuna in Denver, Colorado, is advertised as having the “Best Skill Games in Town” – but, according to the investigative reporting of a local Denver news organisation, that may not be entirely true. In a recent story by Fox 31 News, undercover reporters appeared to have found that the venue operates games of luck that promise players cash prizes.

slot machines or not in Denver amusement arcade

Skill-based casino games or regular old slots?

Let’s not get too hasty here. To get around the licensing issue, La Fortuna adheres to a perfectly legal rule that allows the venue to operate gaming machines that supposedly rely on skill. But, as Fox 31’s reporters discovered, they actually require some luck too.

According to the report, while the venue’s owners maintain that their amusements are just like those available at Dave & Busters or Chuck E. Cheese’s, there are several gaming machines that operate in almost exactly the same way as the slot machines you’d expect to find in casinos.

The games in question do not legally qualify as slot machines, as they are programmed to never line up three matching symbols in a row. At most, two matching symbols can be lined up next to each other – and this is where the skill apparently comes in. For example, if two matching devils land on the first and second reels, but a chicken lands on the third reel, this would be considered a loss in a traditional land based casino.

However, at La Fortuna, if players notice a devil symbol above or below the chicken, they can nudge it into place and receive a cash prize. Fox 31 argues that this sounds very much like an element of skill.

Just an arcade game

Sounds kind of like a slot machine, doesn’t it? Well, as reported by Fox 31 News, the owners of La Fortuna deny that it is associated with any type of gambling. They’ve explained that it is a game of skill that requires players to show some sort of proficiency in order to claim the prize.

“Ours is just an arcade. You come in and play arcade games,” says co-owner Tammy Garamova, defending the gaming machines at La Fortuna. “The payout is cash, but that does not make it gambling. Gambling, limited gaming is defined by skill vs chance.”

Fox’s undercover reporters beg to differ. When playing the game they said that, although they were able to win some rounds, they lost more because the symbols did not always match up on the first two reels. So, skill or luck? To put it simply, La Fortuna isn’t doing anything wrong as it’s allowed to offer skill games as part of its service. And after all, as many will no doubt have discovered in casinos, the two are pretty much intertwined and inseparable.


To clarify, La Fortuna is not doing anything wrong with the games it is offering players. What makes this story an interesting one is that it picks up – albeit in a slightly different guise – the age old argument of skill vs luck when it comes to casinos and gambling. It’s a case we’ve seen argued numerous times, both when it comes to punters arguing the merits of their favourite games and, more importantly, in legislative discussions over the legalization of various forms of casino games. In this instance, there’s certainly skill involved: nudge in the right way and you can pick up a cash prize after all. But, there are a lot of similarities between the general gameplay of La Fortuna’s machines and slot machines. One thing that will make most smile, perhaps through gritted teeth, is that whether amusement arcades or casinos it seems that the house (generally) wins – sound familiar?

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