A company that makes electronic pull-tab machines has been banned from doing business in the state.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem announced the suspension of the electronic pull-tab license for Powerhouse Gaming Inc. in a release on Wednesday, July 8. The announcement came after confirming that apparently pirated software was installed in the company’s electronic pull tab devices within the state. The order suspends the California-based company’s gaming license and requires all Powerhouse electronic pull tab device systems operating in North Dakota to be disabled immediately and to remain shut down until further notice.

“North Dakotans, and my office, expect gaming operators to completely comply with our laws. Any violators will be held accountable,” said Stenehjem.

The Williston Herald checked with establishments in Williston, and at the time of writing there had been no word from state officials regarding their machines.

According to the release, the Stenehjem’s gaming division began an investigation in early May 2020, after receiving credible information that Powerhouse was using illegal or pirated software in its electronic pull tab machines. The office was also made aware of a Cease & Desist letter issued by attorneys for Microsoft demanding Powerhouse stop using pirated software in its gaming systems.

Officials from the gaming division inspected several Powerhouse devices and confirmed that the company had improperly installed a program known as KMS, which Microsoft labels a software hack that violates copyright laws. The office demanded that Powerhouse provide proof that it had purchased a unique software license for each electronic pull tab device operating in North Dakota.

Stenehjem said that license suspension order will remain in effect at least until Powerhouse can satisfactorily prove to his office that the company is in full compliance with all gaming regulations. Powerhouse has the right to request a hearing on the suspension.

Electronic pull tabs were approved by the Legislature in 2017, and the first electronic pull tab machine was installed in August 2018. As of April 30, 2020, there were over 2,500 electronic pull tab machines located at 592 gaming sites across the state. The devices have proven to be very popular in North Dakota, with over $349,683,000 wagered in fiscal year 2019, netting charitable organizations a total of $35,860,663.

Powerhouse has approximately 489 devices in operation. Powerhouse is one of five companies licensed to manufacture electronic pull tabs device systems, which are distributed across the state by licensed distributors to the various bars and other locations where charitable gaming occurs.

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