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
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.