Judge Allows Local Gov't To Restrict Videogame Access

Last Friday a federal judge rejected a request by the IDSA to throw out a St. Louis County ordinance passed in 2000, which restricts access to arcade and home video games.
The ordinance would require owners and managers of arcades and video rental stores to separate mature-rated videogames from other games, and designate the area as "Restricted 17." Children would require parental permission to access this area. The ordinance in St. Louis County was modeled after one in Indianapolis, which was subseqently struck down by a federal appeals court in Chicago. It has not yet taken effect, however -- the ordinance was suspended by the county council until July 1. Senior U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh Sr., in his ruling, said after reviewing four games, he found "no conveyance of ideas, expression, or anything else that could possibly amount to speech. The court finds that video games have more in common with board games and sports than they do with motion pictures." As such, Limbaugh said games are not constitutionally protected forms of speech. The names of the games Limbaugh played were not revealed. Doug Lowenstein, President of the IDSA, said that the IDSA will appeal the decision, and felt confident that ultimately the game industry would win the case. "The decision is clearly in conflict with virtually every other federal court decision on this and related issues," Lowenstein said. "We're confident that our position will be sustained on appeal." Judge Limbaugh Sr. is well known for his conservative views, and is the uncle of conservative talkshow host Rush Limbaugh.

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