In Pennsylvania, “skill games” have been a hot-button issue for years. Other states are starting to ban the unregulated machines.
Kentucky became the latest to ban them, with the support of Governor Andy Beshear. Kentucky joins Virginia as the second state to ban such devices, which critics say have harmed the legal gambling industry.
Meanwhile, PA Casinos faced a recent setback in the fight against the machines.
Kentucky bans unregulated skill games
Earlier this week, Beshear signed Kentucky HB594 into law, which officially bans unregulated skill games throughout the state.
President and CEO of the American Gaming Association (AGA) Bill Miller released the following statement in an email:
“This win is a testament to what we can accomplish when we unite as an industry behind a common cause—and the American Gaming Association will use it as a springboard to pursue similar success in states throughout the country.”
Miller said unregulated skill games “pose an existential threat to our industry.”
AGA says unregulated games cost PA communities
According to the AGA, Americans wagered $511 billion with unregulated machines and illegal sportsbooks and online casinos. It has costed communities more than $13 billion in tax revenue.
The AGA estimates 580,651 unregulated machines in the country. The northeast corridor of the country, which includes Pennsylvania, accounts for 122,000+ machines.
There are 870,000 regulated machines in casinos and slot routes, which means 40% of all gaming machines in the country are unlicensed.
PA casinos face setback in legal ruling
Pennsylvania regulators are still grappling with unregulated skill games in the state.
The latest ruling gave the skill game operators a win. A Pennsylvania judge ruled in favor of Pace-O-Matic (POM), a manufacturer of skill game machines, after the Commonwealth wrongfully seized skill games in 2021.
The court found the games as legal and ordered the Commonwealth to return them to POM.
POM spokesman Mike Barley, in a much different tone than Miller, released a statement after the ruling:
“This is another tremendous victory for Pennsylvania skill games, powered by Pace-O-Matic, and our Pennsylvania small business and fraternal partners.”
He continued, “We applaud the court’s decision, especially regarding the matter of protecting Pace-O-Matic’s intellectual property. The prosecutor’s behavior, in this case, has been egregious, and we are deeply concerned about the motivation to disregard, bend and violate the law and our constitutional rights in a coordinated effort to harm our company and the small businesses, clubs and veterans groups that benefit from skill game revenue and support.”
Can PA casinos and skill games legally coexist?
The ruling gives skill game operators and manufacturers in the state a leg-up in the fight. Barley sees skill games as a legitimate part of PA’s gaming landscape, and welcomes fair regulation and taxation.
Barely said, “Every time the legality of our skill games has been called into question, the legal status of our games has been upheld by the judiciary. Pace-O-Matic stands out among our competitors as the active and driving force seeking additional regulation and taxation. We remain steadfast in our commitment to working with the state General Assembly and asking for legislation providing additional regulation and increased tax money for the state.”
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