Torch Electronics sells what they call amusement devices. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

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After a wild 2024 for no-chance game machine maker Torch Electronics, the company's first day in court in its lawsuit against the City of Springfield was filled with far less drama.

The case, Torch Electronics, LLC vs City of Springfield, had a motion hearing April 24 at the Judicial Courts Facility, located at 1010 N. Boonville Ave. The hearing, presided by Greene County Associate Circuit Judge Nathan Robert Taylor, marked the first time the case was heard publicly.

The hearing was brief. Attorneys representing Wildwood, Missouri-based Torch Electronics and the Springfield city government presented a short synopsis of their case and, ultimately, Judge Taylor decided to meet in court again in about 30 days to set a trial date.

On the last day of February, Torch Electronics filed a suit against the City of Springfield, which earlier that month passed an ordinance banning cash-prize gaming machines, also known as video lottery terminals (VLTs). The city immediately began enforcing the ordinance. Springfield police officers have issued at least 36 citations to businesses, including smoke and vape shops, convenience stores and many more.

Marc Ellinger, partner at Ellinger Bell, who represented the City of Springfield, asked Judge Taylor for an early trial date due to the case's gravity. Ellinger said it was a “fairly clean” case and asked for a late-summer 2024 trial date.

“This case is important,” Ellinger said. “It's a significant issue to the community.”

Charles “Chuck” Hatfield, partner at Stinson LLP, who represented Torch Electronics, said that a late-summer trial would likely be too early, and his team would need more time to prepare for trial.

“I don't see how we'd be ready by the end of the summer,” Hatfield said.

In a post-hearing interview, Hatfield said he's not necessarily opposed to an immediate trial, but “it's a little too early to make that decision.”

The lawsuit alleges Torch Electronic's gaming machines are lawful amusement machines and aren't subject to the city's ban, according to the Torch petition. The City of Springfield disagreed with the game company and denied its definition of the machines, according to the city's counterclaim to the petition.

As of January 2024, Torch had approximately 650 machines in about 84 locations across Springfield, according to the counterclaim, filed in late March. Of those locations, one business had as many as 32 Torch machines, while 27 locations had at least 10 machines.


Ryan Collins

Ryan Collins is the business and economic development reporter for the Hauxeda. Collins graduated from Glendale High School in 2011 before studying journalism and economics at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He previously worked for Bloomberg News. Contact him at (417) 849-2570 or More by Ryan Collins