Standing up for my personal boundaries and attacks against my good name

(TL;DR: Rusty Key made an unwarranted attack against my good name and in light of the lack of retraction and apology, I am asking for a boycott of his businesses including but by no means limited to The Game Preserve.)

My apologies if this seems long but I feel like it needs to be said. While a lot of this occurred last (2023) August, making it a few months old by now, I have never received an apology for what has been directed at me.

Anyway, back in 2023 August, the Space City Pinball League was gifted a pinball machine by the family of Tyler Hunter who had, at that time, just recently passed away from an illness. The idea was that those in charge of Space City Pinball would find a new home for the game and raise money for the family.

So far, so good. This is great and I have no objection to either of these in principle. There are a number of ways to accomplish the goals of both finding a new home for a pinball machine and raising funds, while remaining within the boundaries of state law.

One way would be a silent auction. While Texas does require an auctioneer’s license for live auctions, there is no such requirement for silent auctions, sealed bid sales, and the like. Individuals and for-profit corporations have free reign to run a silent auction. There is no requirement to be a non-profit or charity for silent auctions.

A second way would be to give the machine away as a prize in a fundraiser pinball tournament. Price entries at, say, $20 each (maybe even offer 3 for $50, etc) and do something like the qualifying at TPF or PAPA, with the final 4 players playing in perhaps the highest-stakes group matchplay playoff in greater Houston pinball history. A bona fide contest of skill if there ever was one, so completely legal.

A third way would be to involve a qualified organization (QO) under the Charitable Raffle Enabling Act (Texas Occupations Code § 2002.003) and run a raffle. This would require re-gifting the machine to that QO with the understanding that QO would award the raffle proceeds as a grant to the family (presumably, pursuant to its mission).

So given these choices, what did Space City Pinball choose to do?

Apparently, they chose to cut corners. Space City Pinball held a so-called “raffle” without the QO. Unfortunately, no QO means no legal raffle, and instead it’s an illegal lottery, which is a big problem. Everyone involved in selling tickets committed a class A misdemeanor (Texas Penal Code §47.03, Gambling Promotion). Anyone who allowed tickets to be sold on premises likely committed a class A misdemeanor (Texas Penal Code §47.04, Keeping A Gambling Place). Finally, anyone who bought tickets likely committed a class C misdemeanor (Texas Penal Code §47.02, Gambling).

Flaunting the law like this is completely unfair to the organizations that go out of their way to comply with the law and hold legal raffles. This is also a slap in the face to those who go out of the way to act as ambassadors of pinball and reassure new players that it’s a game for law-abiding citizens. It devalues moments like Roger Sharpe’s plunger skill shot for the ages in a Manhattan City Council meeting. It’s a giant “**** you” to those who care about morals, ethics, citizenship, and decency.

Rusty Key took the side of Space City Pinball, both when he allowed tickets to be sold at The Game Preserve and when he attacked my good name without justification. Presumably, he’s the one that spread a rumor that I objected to raising money for the Hunter family–a gross misrepresentation of the facts and circumstances.

What I did do was ask who the QO was for the raffle. I wanted to confirm this before I bought a ticket. I also felt was a legitimate question everyone should be willing to ask, especially when the answer means the difference between a legal fundraising raffle and an illegal lottery. The former of these, we as a community should be proud to support; the latter, we should reject.

No QO means it’s an illegal lottery. The only winning move when it comes to illegal lotteries is not to play.

I asked for an apology and retraction from Mr. Key. So far my response has been radio silence.

I have no issue with people doing good things and having fun within the boundaries of applicable laws, reasonable moral and ethical standards, and a careful regard for the reputation of the classic arcade and pinball communities as well as the reputation of competitive/tournament pinball scene. This is completely the opposite of what Mr. Key said.

I have boundaries and I have standards. Mr. Key has violated both. This is unacceptable. I have not visited The Game Preserve since this has happened nor have I done business with either of his other two companies, Key Arcades or Adaptive Game Products. And until I get my apology and retraction, that’s the way it’s going to stay. I’m calling for a boycott of all three companies.

I realize Mr. Key is only a part owner of The Game Preserve. However, there’s no way around him getting a cut of the $15 per visit I would pay to play there. It is unfortunate that this also negatively affects the other owners for the moment. I have nothing against them, but it is what it is. Should Mr. Key sell or be bought out of his share of The Game Preserve, I’m willing to end that portion of the boycott (to be announced here). And while I hope this doesn’t happen anytime soon, should Mr. Key expire, the boycott will expire too.

(Just so we are clear: The boycott of Adaptive Game Products does not mean I am against people with physical issues being able to enjoy pinball. There is at least one other company making a similar alternative product, Inclusive Gamewerks, which I highly recommend.)

I didn’t really want to do this but the alternative was to let a violation of my boundaries and standards and an attack on my good name go unchallenged. I can’t do that. Not anymore.