Jun 10, 2001 7:58 PM

The future of gaming was dealt a blow in Alabama late last week with a state-sponsored lawsuit to ban non-cash gaming machines.

Attorney General Bill Pryor filed a suit in county court to close a loophole in the 1996 "Chuck E. Cheese" law that allows restaurants and arcades to offer machines that pay winners with coupons redeemable for cash and merchandise.

Since the law, gaming machines have sprung up all over the state in hundreds of convenience stores and entertainment facilities.

Pryor's suit claims the Legislature had no constitutional authority to legalize the machines. The suit also claims the machines function essentially as a lottery, which is specifically banned by the Alabama Constitution.