The Governor of the U.S. State of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, has signed into law Republican Representative Jeff Johnson's HF1298 bill, which adds fines for underage gamers who buy M or AO rated games.
The full text of the bill, which was passed
by the Minnesota House late last month, requires video game retail outlets to put up signs that explain the ESRB rating system, something that stores are already heavily, though not compulsarily encourages to do.
In addition, while previous similar bills have included proposed fines for retailers who sell inappropriate games to minors, HF1298 mandates a $25 civil penalty against anyone underage who purchases a M or AO-rated game, the opposite, but still potent concept.
However, bill promulgator Johnson, who's running for attorney general, indicated that as he is not trying to criminalize video games, such offenses would not go on the child's record.
The bill will go into effect on August 1st, 2006, under the current situation, and it is not clear whether the Entertainment Software Association or any other entity will attempt to intervene legally, as has happened in other cases - though it seems likely that they will, since, while different, the bill would still set a State-based legal precedent on top of the ESRB ratings system.