Court rules in favor of Pennsylvania Skill Games, state plans to appeal the decision

Posted on: December 2, 2023, 10:24h. 

Last updated on: December 2, 2023, 10:24h.

This week, Pennsylvania skill games were deemed not illegal gambling devices as the Commonwealth Court upheld a lower court’s ruling. This legal victory is significant for skill gaming operators and enthusiasts alike.

Pennsylvania skill gaming legal
A person plays a Pennsylvania Skill game in a bar. The skill gaming industry in the state won a major legal ruling this week when the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court upheld a lower court’s decision that skill games do not constitute gambling. (Image: The Morning Call)

In a landmark 7-0 decision, the Commonwealth Court ruled that skill games, which closely resemble traditional slot machines but require a considerable level of player skill, do not fall under the definition of gambling.

The Commonwealth Court upheld the finding that for a game to be gambling, “it must be a game where chance predominates rather than skill.” This favorable ruling has reinvigorated the skill gaming industry in the state.

The court stated that despite the element of chance in skill games, the player’s level of skill is more critical in determining the outcome than the machine. Consequently, skill gaming machines confiscated by state police are set to be returned, along with any seized revenue.

Embrace of Skill Gaming

With “Pennsylvania Skill” title serving as the most popular skill gaming product in the state, the court’s ruling has opened up new opportunities for skill game developers and operators.

The gameplay dynamics of skill games were highlighted in the ruling, which pointed out that players must independently identify winning paylines within a time frame, demonstrating that skill significantly influences the game’s outcome.

The decision of the Commonwealth Court emphasized that “POM machines are not gambling devices and therefore do not constitute derivative contraband,” offering a boost to the embattled skill gaming sector.

Legal Battle Ahead

The state plans to appeal the Commonwealth Court’s decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, signaling a potential protracted legal battle ahead.

Pennsylvania’s casinos are looking to protect their interests from skill gaming competition. Unregulated skill games provide no tax advantage, while slot machines are heavily taxed. Legislative proposals have been tabled both to clamp down on skill games and to legalize and tax them, highlighting the contentious nature of the issue.

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