A bill that would make way for restaurant-entertainment chain Dave & Buster's to open a location at the Dimond Center in Anchorage unanimously passed the Alaska Senate on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 157 would tweak the state's gambling law, clarifying that gambling does not include arcade-style amusement games of skill (as opposed to chance) that reward tickets, credits, allowances, tokens or anything that can be redeemed for non-cash toys, candy and novelties at the same location. It would also clarify that claw machine games don't constitute gambling.
"Passage of this bill will give businesses like Dave & Buster's the sure-footed legal ground to move ahead with their plans," wrote Sen. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, in her statement sponsoring the bill, which she called a "housekeeping measure." In a recent hearing, she referred to SB 157 as "the Chuck E. Cheese's bill" and "the Dave & Buster's bill." Chuck E. Cheese's is already operating in Alaska.
Dave & Buster's, a Dallas-based company, is a restaurant chain that also features arcade and video games. The company has grown rapidly in the Lower 48 in recent years, and is planning a 44,000-square-foot location on the top level of the Dimond Center. That plan would require the mall to raise its roof by 8 feet.
The Dimond Center would spend about $13 million to open the location, and Dave & Buster's would spend about $10 million.
The bill will now go to the House of Representatives. You can read more specifics about the bill and the company's plans here.