It's A Little-Kid Casino
Big Cheese / YouTube
We're not sure what's the older joke: that casinos are Chuck E. Cheese's for adults or that Chuck E. Cheese's is a casino for kids. But with the second of these, at least, it might not be a joke at all.
A couple of years ago, states started cracking down on cyber cafes with slots games, reasoning that these were just really shitty casinos in places casinos weren't allowed to operate -- kids pay to play the games, for the miniscule chance to win more than they spent. When Florida passed a law banning gambling machines, the Miami Herald sent an investigator to Chuck E. Cheese's (hopefully not wearing his trusty detective trench coat) and the paper concluded that the machines there violate anti-gambling laws by any objective interpretation.
Plush Time Wins
They distract patrons with cartoon chicken-ladies and soda instead of sexy waitresses and booze.
Asked for comment, Miami's mayor said, "I'm not going to go arrest Chuck E. Cheese in front of a bunch of six-year-olds." Which is a shame, because our sources talk of six-year-olds alternately cowering at the sight of Chuck E. and punching his crotch, so they'd love seeing him dragged off in cuffs.
"There's a gambling element to a lot of the games," says Mark. For example, one game has kids dropping in tokens hoping that a balance will topple and dislodge a ton of tokens. Another game works similarly to roulette. Oh, and the machines take tokens or quarters, but the tokens cost 33 cents each. Parents buy tokens anyway, either because they don't know or because this feels more wholesome than having their kids beg them for actual money.
Greg Younger / Wiki Commons
Or just lock them in the ticket-tube, because you're never too young to get literally imprisoned by your addiction.
Then there's the California parent who sued the chain for $5 million, saying that their flashy games of chance had gotten her kids addicted to gambling. That would be pretty remarkable if true, considering the two girls were aged five and three.
Chuck E. Cheese's response was masterful: "1) Our machines are legal, and if they aren't, then 2) whoa girl, you just admitted to voluntarily participating in illegal gambling, which means you'll be going to jail!" The woman dropped the suit. The house always wins, lady.
Heather S owes a lot to Chuck E. Cheese's having met her husband working there. She still loves visiting the stores with her family, all things considered. Matt streams on Twitch at twitch.tv/thehoove. Adam lives in the Midwest where he taught his cat to walk on a leash and is totally not a weirdo. Stop staring. Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a Cracked columnist, interviewer, and editor. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow Ryan Menezes on Twitter for stuff cut from this article and other things no one should see.
For more insider perspectives, check out I Am A Clown: 5 Truths You'll Wish I Didn't Tell You and 5 Hidden Dark Sides Of Life As A Street Magician.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check out Internet Party: Why Nobody Gets Anything Done On the Web, and other videos you won't see on the site!
Also, follow us on Facebook, and let's be best friends forever.