New Bill in Pennsylvania Seeks to Prohibit Skill Gaming Machines

Posted on: November 2, 2023, 08:31h. 

Last updated on: November 2, 2023, 08:31h.

Legislation introduced in Pennsylvania could soon put an end to skill gaming in the state. State Sen. Amanda Cappelletti (D-Delaware) and Rep. Mark Rozzi (D-Berks) have filed a bill seeking to ban the controversial grey machines found in various establishments. These machines, often branded as “Pennsylvania Skill,” resemble traditional slot machines but lack the same consumer protections and tax responsibilities.

Pennsylvania skill gaming machines slots
Janet Delgado, of Strasburg, plays a “Pennsylvania Skill” machine on June 19, 2019. Pennsylvania skill gaming legislation seeking to prohibit the grey machines has been introduced in the Harrisburg capital. (Image: Lancaster Online)

Skill gaming machines have been a contentious issue in Pennsylvania, with small businesses and the skill gaming industry arguing that they have helped offset economic challenges and provided employment opportunities. However, Cappelletti and Rozzi believe that these machines lack necessary consumer protections and can lead to harmful behaviors. The debate over whether skill games constitute gambling continues, and the legislation introduced aims to settle the matter.

Although skill games resemble traditional slot machines and operate similarly, they are not subject to the same regulations and tax rates. Skill gaming revenue does not contribute to property tax reductions or the state’s horse racing industry. The casino industry argues that skill games cannibalize revenue from regulated slots, while skill gaming proponents argue that the machines have provided vital support to small businesses.

Court Considerations

While some believe that skill games should be classified as illegal gambling, Pennsylvania’s state courts have not yet reached a definitive conclusion. A 2019 ruling by Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough stated that the state’s Gaming Act only regulates games of chance and not games of skill. However, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board believes that the General Assembly should address the issue and suggests that all skill games should only be allowed to operate within state-licensed casinos. Cappelletti and Rozzi’s bill seeks to amend the Gaming Act accordingly.

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