Will Ruling End Debate Over Skill Games in Pennsylvania?
In a 7-0 decision on November 30, 2023, the court upheld a Dauphin County judge’s finding earlier this year that the skill games are not slot machines or illegal gambling devices, but that the devices developed by Pace-O-Matic are actually “skill games”, meaning they require a level of skill to win and do not rely on chance alone.
Commonly branded in Pennsylvania as “Pennsylvania Skill”, the machines are popular inside many sports bars, gas stations, and convenience stores. The debate over their legality has been ongoing for nearly seven years.
Proponents say this is a victory for small businesses, but critics say it opens the door for unregulated gambling.
“This is a major victory for Pennsylvania Skill, but it’s equally a victory for our operators and the thousands of small businesses, volunteer fire companies, and fraternal clubs who have come to depend on the revenue our games provide,” President and CEO of Pace-O-Matic Paul Goldean said in a statement “This is also a win for many players across the commonwealth who enjoy skill games as a popular entertainment option. Our games have always been legal, and this ruling proves that once and for all.”
Pennsylvania originally ruled that skill wasn’t needed for the games. But this newer ruling states the previous ruling was found to be “factually untrue.”
Will the Debate Head to the PA Supreme Court?
The Commonwealth Court ruled on this decision after Pennsylvania State Police and the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement seized video game terminals and money from a sports bar in Dauphin County earlier this year.
Susan Affronti, one of the attorneys prosecuting the case for Attorney General Michelle Henry, said Henry does intend to seek a review of the Commonwealth Court’s decision in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
The American Gaming Association says they are disappointed by the ruling: “We continue to hold out hope that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will ultimately get it right by recognizing that “skill” games are, in fact, gambling devices”.