from an order of the circuit court for Milwaukee County No.
2016CV6655, JOHN J. DiMOTTO, Judge. Affirmed.
Brash, P.J., Brennan and Dugan, JJ.
Quick Charge Kiosk LLC and Jeremy Hahn (collectively Quick
Charge) appeal the trial court's order granting the
Attorney General's motion for summary judgment declaring
that Quick Charge's "cell phone charging
machines" (Machines), also referred to as cell phone
charging kiosks, constituted illegal gambling
machines. We agree with the trial court's
determination and, therefore, affirm.
In 2014 Hahn founded Quick Charge, which operates the
Machines and places them in retail establishments throughout
the State. The Machines resemble video gambling machines
commonly found in casinos or taverns, and they function in
same manner. The Machines and their electronic video displays
look similar to those of a mechanical slot machine. The major
components of the Machines are (1) a cabinet structure; (2)
electronic parts and associated software; and (3) electronic
device charging ports that fit almost all portable electronic
devices, including mobile phones and tablets.
When a customer puts one dollar into the Machine, that
customer receives 100 credits to play the video chance game,
and one minute of charging time. A customer who charges an
electronic device cannot continue to play the game after the
expiration of the charging time, but the customer may cash
out any remaining credits by printing out a paper receipt
using the Machine's printer and redeeming the receipt for
cash at the Machine's site. The credits are redeemable at
the ratio of one dollar per 100 credits, the same rate at
which the credits are acquired. Thus, a customer need not use
any game credits while charging a phone and may redeem all
the credits for cash when the charging time expires. For
instance, a customer may deposit one dollar in exchange for
one minute of charging time and 100 game play credits. When
the one minute of charging time expires, the customer may
redeem all 100 game play credits for one dollar, effectively
receiving one free minute of cell phone charging. A customer
may also play the video chance game without connecting an
electronic device for charging. The Machines also have a
random number generator that determines if a player wins and,
if so, the amount the player wins.
Based on an Attorney General opinion that the Machines are
unlawful gambling machines, the City of Greenfield ordered
Quick Charge to remove three Machines from a retail location
in Greenfield. In Brown County, representatives of the State
obtained a search warrant for removal of the Machines based
on a probable cause finding that the Machines were illegal
In August 2016, Quick Charge filed an action in Milwaukee
County Circuit Court seeking declaratory judgment that its
Machines complied with the "in-pack chance
promotion" statute, Wis.Stat. § 100.16 (2017-18),
that they did not violate Wisconsin's gambling statutes
found in Wis.Stat. ch. 945. Thereafter, the Attorney General
filed a summary judgment motion seeking an order declaring
that the Machines are unlawful gambling machines under
Wis.Stat. § 945.01(3). Quick Charge filed a cross motion
for summary judgment seeking an order declaring that its
Machines and promotional games complied with the
"in-pack chance promotion" exception, and,
therefore, did not violate Wisconsin's gambling statutes.
The trial court heard oral arguments from the parties on the
summary judgment motions and then issued a written decision
granting the Attorney General's summary judgment motion.
The trial court held that the Machines do not comply with the
"in-pack chance promotion exception" in Wis.Stat.
§ 100.16(2); that the exception does not apply to
Wis.Stat. § 945.01(3), the gambling machine subsection;
and that the Machines are "gambling machines"
pursuant to § 945.01(3) and violate Wis.Stat. ch. 945.
This appeal follows.
Quick Charge argues that its Machines are lotteries, not
gambling machines, under Wis.Stat. § 945.01(5) (the
lottery subsection) and Wis.Stat. § 100.16(2). It
asserts that the Machines do not involve consideration under
the lottery subsection because its machines use in-pack
chance promotions, which the lottery subsection exempts from
its definition of consideration. It further argues that,
because exempted lotteries do not constitute gambling, the
Machines cannot be deemed to be gambling machines.
The Attorney General argues that because the lottery
definition in Wis.Stat. § 945.01(5) explicitly
references the in-pack chance promotion of Wis.Stat. §
100.16(2), the chance promotion exception only applies to
lotteries. He further argues that the in-pack chance
promotion exception does not apply to the definition of
consideration in § 945.01(3) because the gambling
machine subsection does not include any reference to §
100.16(2). He argues that because the Machines are gambling
machines they are illegal.
As we further explain, we agree with the Attorney General.
Standard of review and principles of statutory
Whether summary judgment has been properly granted is a
question of law which we review de novo, applying
the same methodology as the trial court, but benefiting from
its analysis. See Eichenseer v. Madison-Dane Cty. Tavern
League, Inc., 2008 WI 38, ¶30, 308 Wis.2d 684, 748
N.W.2d 154. Summary judgment is appropriate where there is no
genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Wis.
Stat. § 802.08(2).
Here, the parties disagree over the interpretation and
application of Wis.Stat. §§ 945.01(3), 945.01(5),
and 100.16(2) which involves questions of law involving
statutory interpretation. "Judicial deference to the
policy choices enacted into law by the legislature requires
that statutory interpretation focus primarily on the language
of the statute. We assume that the legislature's intent
is expressed in the statutory language." See State
ex rel. Kalal v. Circuit Ct. for Dane Cty., 2004 WI 58,
¶44, 271 Wis.2d 633, 681 N.W.2d 110. Thus,
statutory interpretation begins with the language of the
statute. If the meaning of the statute is plain, we
ordinarily stop the inquiry. Statutory language is given its
common, ordinary, and accepted meaning, except that technical
or specially-defined words or phrases are given their
technical or special definitional meaning.
See id., ¶45 (citation omitted); see
also Wis. Stat. § 990.01(1). "Statutory
language is read where possible to give reasonable effect to
every word, in order to avoid surplusage."
Kalal, 271 Wis.2d 633, ¶46.
The Machines qualify as illegal gambling machines under
Wis.Stat. § 945.01(3)(a); they are not exempted
lotteries under § 945.01(5) and Wis.Stat. §