Escape Rooms Classified as Amusement Device?
When a Tennessee Escape Room owner found out he was going to start obtaining a permit for his Escape Rooms he was surprised. He was told by a state official that he would have to start obtaining permits and inspections because an Escape Room is classified as an Amusement Device. The laws regarding Amusement Device inspection were passed in 2008, however the state only received the money needed to fund a task force in 2016.
Strangely however, there were some devices that are somehow exempt from this law including: Mechanical Bulls, Go-Karts & Skating Rinks. The Tennessee state website defines an “Amusement Device” as:
“Amusement Device” means: (A) Any mechanical or structural device that carries or conveys a person, or that permits a person to walk along, around or over a fixed or restricted route or course or within a defined area, including the entrances and exits to the device, for the purpose of giving persons amusement, pleasure, thrills or excitement.
“Amusement Device” includes, but is not limited to, roller coasters, Ferris wheels, merry-go-rounds, glasshouses and walk-through dark houses; Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-121-101 (3)(A)
Examples of some devices not included are: Wavepools, Roller and Ice Skating Rinks, Skateboard Ramps or Courses, Hay Rides, Mechanical Bulls, Go-Karts, Bungee Cord (or similar elastic devices), and devices operated on a natural body of water.
Which raises the question, what makes a mechanical bull, which I am sure everyone would agree is by definition an amusement device, exempt under this law? The Escape Room owner seems to believe that due to special interests in the government, some devices were made exempt from this law, for that reason only. “What you find in any kind of code, fire or otherwise, is that there are special interests at play. That tends to steer the ultimate rules,” he said. What is the definition of an “Amusement Device” in other states?
South Carolina law defines an Amusement Device as:
(1) “Amusement device” means any mechanical device or combination of devices which carries or conveys passengers on, along, around, over, or through a fixed or restricted course or within a defined area for the purpose of giving its passengers amusement, pleasure, or excitement.
An escape room is obviously not a mechanical device, and does not carry people along. The part about a fixed or restricted course within a defined area for amusement sounds like it could describe an Escape Room…
What are your thoughts on this issue? Should Escape Rooms be defined as an Amusement Device?
Please leave a comment in the comments section below.
1. Clarksville Leaf Chronicle. “Escape rooms now need permits as ‘amusement devices.’ Guess what’s not covered under the law?”. https://www.theleafchronicle.com/story/news/local/clarksville/2018/12/04/escape-rooms-tennessee-inspection-permits/2192283002/. December 6, 2019.
2. Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce. “Definition of an Amusement Device.” https://www.tn.gov/workforce/employers/safety—health/regulations-compliance/regulations—compliance-redirect/amusement-devices/redirect-amusement-device-unit/definition.html. 3. SC State House Website. “South Carolina Code of Laws”. https://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t41c018.php