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UNITED STATES v. ANSANI

January 26, 1956

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
ROBERT J. ANSANI, HARVEY MILNER, JOHN EDWARD MOORE, ALIAS CLAUDE MADDOX, ALIAS JOHN MANNING, JOSEPH J. AIUPPA, AND RAY JOHNSON, CO-PARTNERS DOING BUSINESS AS TAYLOR & COMPANY.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Campbell, District Judge.

  Memorandum and Verdict

The defendants are under a four count indictment charging them with violations of the Gambling Devices Transportation Act, 15 U.S.C.A. § 1171 et seq. Count II has been dismissed since the provision of the statute upon which it is based has been held by this Court to be unconstitutional. A trial upon the remaining three counts was had before the Court without a jury and the case was then taken under advisement on briefs, including the additional brief filed only last evening by the defendants.

Count I alleges that on February 26, 1954, the defendants unlawfully, knowingly and wilfully shipped and caused to be transported in interstate commerce four gambling devices which were intended to be used in connection with so-called slot machines. These alleged gambling devices, known also as Trade Boosters, are alleged to have been shipped to one, Frank J. Zaydell, Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Count III charges that on July 1, 1954, the defendants wilfully, knowingly and unlawfully failed and refused to register, with the Attorney General of the United States or the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, as dealers in gambling devices.

Count IV alleges that the defendants wilfully, knowingly and unlawfully shipped gambling devices in interstate commerce without marking their containers so as to clearly indicate that the contents thereof were gambling devices.

At the outset, the Court must determine whether a Trade Booster is a gambling device within the purview of the Act.

Section 1171(a) of the Act defines a "gambling device" as

    "(1) any so-called `slot machine' or any other
  machine or mechanical device an essential part of
  which is a drum or reel with insignia
  thereon, * * * by the operation of which a person may
  become entitled to receive, as the result of the
  application of an element of chance, any money or
  property; or * * * (3) any subassembly or essential
  part intended to be used in connection with any such
  machine or mechanical device."

The defendants contend that a Trade Booster is not a subassembly or essential part of a slot machine. They argue that once a Trade Booster has been installed, a slot machine ceases to be such since before a Trade Booster can be connected to a slot machine, the machine would first have to be deslotted; that is, the coin intake, coin chutes and pay-out mechanism would have to be removed. Having no slots, the defendants reason, a slot machine is not a slot machine when the Trade Booster has been connected to it; therefore, the defendants argue, a Trade Booster could not be considered a subassembly or essential part of a slot machine.

The difficulty with the defendants' position is that the statute is concerned with slot machines, not because they have slots but because they are machines the operation of which might entitle a person to receive, as the result of the application of an element of chance, a reward in money or property. The defendants would have this Court hold that the term "slot machine," as contained in the Act, means any gambling device which contains slots for the purpose of receiving and delivering coins. This definition, however, I am unable to accept.

An object is that which it is in objective reality. If, in placing a label or name on that object by which it later will be known, a word or term is chosen that describes that object's accidental qualities, rather than those qualities that the object has of its very essence, then that object does not cease to be that which it is in objective reality merely because those accidental qualities are later removed. The label or name by which that object is known succeeds, by common usage, to mean that which it is in objective reality. Thus, in naming that which was to be known as a "slot machine," the word "slot" was joined with the word "machine." The word "slot" describes an accidental quality of that which is now known as a "slot machine" and does not describe that which a slot machine has of its very essence. It makes little difference, therefore, whether a slot machine has been deslotted or not as that machine continues to be a slot machine, altered or not.

Thus, a "slot machine" has, by common usage, become to be known as any device which employs drums or reels with the familiar insignia thereon which, when activated either mechanically or electrically after the payment of the required consideration, might entitle a person, by the application of an element of chance, to winnings payable in money or property. A slot machine remains such whether the required consideration for the operation of the machine is inserted into the machine or whether it is paid over the counter to the owner of the premises or his employees. Similarly, a slot machine remains such whether the winnings are delivered automatically or whether they are paid over the counter.

This definition of a slot machine is substantiated by the Act's legislative history, which will be found in 1950 United States Code Congressional Service, page 4240, wherein it is stated, at page 4246, that slot machines are machines that:

    "* * * commonly employ drums or reels with insignia
  thereon which are activated either mechanically or in
  some other manner, as, for example, by electric
  power. Slot machines, as defined herein, come within
  the definition of a gambling device whether or not
  they are equipped mechanically to deliver any money
  or property. If they are not equipped to deliver
  money or property mechanically, the winnings, if any,
  indicated on the machine, are usually paid over the
  counter by the owner of the premises on which such
  machines are operated, or his employees."

Common usage, and the Act's legislative history, therefore, prohibit the definition of slot machines that the defendants urge this Court to accept. I hold, therefore, that a slot machine continues to be such after it has been deslotted and connected with a Trade Booster.

It must now be determined whether a Trade Booster is a subassembly or essential part of a slot machine as that machine exists in its altered state.

The function of a Trade Booster is to permit the operation of a slot machine by remote control. The Trade Booster performs precisely the same function as the coin slots previously performed in the unaltered slot machine. To the extent, therefore, that coin slots were essential to the operation of an unaltered slot machine, the Trade Booster is essential to its operation in its altered or deslotted state. The evidence in this case reveals that without a Trade Booster the altered slot machine cannot be operated on a practical basis.

Viewing an altered slot machine (Government's Exhibit 3) and a Trade Booster (Government's Exhibit 4) as one complete assembly, which it becomes when these two exhibits are connected, I find that thus assembled, a Trade Booster becomes a subassembly of an altered slot machine. This is so because the mere altered device, prior to the connection of the Trade Booster, is an unworkable device on a practical basis.

I hold, therefore, that a Trade Booster is a subassembly and essential part of the gambling device to which it is attached and that it itself is a gambling device within the purview of Title 15 of the United States Code Annotated, ยง 1171(a)(3). See the case of United States v. Three (3) Trade Boosters, D.C., 135 F. Supp. 24, decided on October 18, 1955. I find the case cited by the ...


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