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Games of Skill Legality Issues Go Beyond the State of Pennsylvania

The controversy surrounding so-called “games of skill” has gone beyond the state of Pennsylvania and reached national stage, as US states are trying to figure out the proper way to handle the machines that pretty much resemble regular slot terminals hosted by gas stations, bars, fraternal organizations, etc. across the country.

Now, various casino industry organizations across the country, including operators of tribal casinos, are entering the debate regarding the unregulated games that are considered to be part of the grey legal area. Opponents of the machines claim that the games of skill take advantage of a legal loophole, with lawmakers being provided with some literature on the matter by the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM) and the American Gaming Association (AGA).

The gambling and casino operators represented by the two bodies mentioned above – AGEM and AGA – have called for the competent authorities and regulators to impose stricter control on the unregulated slot-like machines. Gambling operations that have been legally offering their services across the US have also insisted that lawmakers need to make a decision whether the skill games should be legalized and subject to regulation.

Until this happens, the national organizations have recommended that the states should allow law enforcement and take actions against establishments that hold liquor or business licenses that operate unregulated skill-based machines. Another measure suggested by the organizations involves the seizure of unregistered machines, which the state of Pennsylvania has already done.

Legality of Skill Games Still to Be Determined in Two Court Cases

On the territory of Pennsylvania, the machines offering so-called games of skill often operate under the name “Pennsylvania Skill”. As previously revealed by a spokesperson of Pace-O-Matic, the time being, there are about 15,000 machines that are run on the market from that company alone but the number of copy-cats that are offered across the state remains unknown. Spokesman Mike Barley further noted that Pace-O-Matic offers skill machines in a number of states, including Virginia, Texas and Wyoming.

Pace-O-Matic, along with its Miele Amusements manufacturer based in Williamsport, has been calling for the state of Pennsylvania to regulate their skill-based games at a rate of approximately 50% of the rate of slot machines, saying that skill machines’ payouts are bigger. The companies have claimed they were supporting small businesses that operate in Pennsylvania, which is not done by too many industries.

The spokesman of Pace-O-Matic further noted that the company’s slot-like machines are not operating in a grey area as they are legal under the existing gambling legislation of Pennsylvania. The machines have, in fact, fallen under a 2014 court ruling but their legality is set to be determined in two other court cases at the Commonwealth Court.

Nationally, AGA and AGEM are targetting not only skill-based machines but other forms of unregulated games, including so-called sweepstakes, games of chance offered under the mask of games of skill, Japanese Pachislo slots, 8-liners, etc.

 Author: Hannah Wallace

Hannah Wallace has been part of our team since the website was launched. She has a master’s degree in IT.