Pennsylvania Group Requests Lawmakers Put ‘Strict Limits’ On Skill Games

Written By Corey Sharp on February 16, 2024 - Last Updated on February 26, 2024
Image showing a slot machine background along with the PA state outline featuring the Pennsylvanians Against Gaming Expansion logo for a story about the group sending out a memo to lawmakers requesting strict limits around skill games.

Pennsylvania skill games operating legally in the Keystone State are all but a formality. Gov. Josh Shapiro included the machines in his proposed budget for FY 2024/2025. The organization Pennsylvanians Against Gaming Expansion sent a memo to lawmakers in the state earlier in the week to warn against the negative impacts of skill games.

Despite the overarching theme the organization stands for, it did include ways for skill games to co-exist with retail and PA online casinos.

Organization opposing Pennsylvania skill games pleads with lawmakers

Pennsylvanians Against Gaming Expansion penned a lengthy email to lawmakers in the Keystone State. It detailed the downside of skill games, which include the following:

  • Increased crime
  • No support to address problem gambling
  • No support to address underage gambling

However, it also stated how Gov. Shapiro is on the right track with instituting a 42% tax on the games.

The email stated it’s much better than Pennsylvania Senator Gene Yaw’s (R-23) proposed tax framework of 16%.

The fact is, the public is in favor of skill games regulation, which became evident in a poll conducted by Franklin & Marshall College earlier this month. Pennsylvanians Against Gaming Expansion appears to be OK with skill games regulation, should the state meet these requirements:

  • The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) oversees regulation
  • A limit on the total number of machines allowed and the total number of establishments that can host skill games
  • Strict limits on the types of business establishments that can host these machines
  • Meaningful law enforcement provisions to ensure that illegal machines will be confiscated

Gov. Shaprio estimates skill games could generate more than $150 million in tax revenue next fiscal year, and $313 million the following year.

Keystone State casinos on same page with ‘rigorous’ skill games regulatory structure

The entire regulated gambling industry in Pennsylvania has similar concerns like Pennsylvanians Against Gaming Expansion. It is going to continue to fight against skill games. Parx Casino CEO, Eric Hausler, still believes the games are too close to slot machines. He told PlayPennsylvania last week:

“We continue to believe that the games in operation today are essentially slot machines. We still believe that the old adage applies: if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck. We are confident the Supreme Court will take a more fulsome view of what constitutes a slot machine.”

The majority of Pennsylvania casinos, along with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office (OAG), American Gaming Association (AGA) and PGCB, filed amicus briefs to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last month.

Despite the strong stance against skill games, Hausler did lay out a way for the games to co-exist. He said:

“A rigorous regulatory and tax structure for skill games should remedy many of these concerns and put sensible limits on the location of these games.”

It remains to be seen what happens next. The Commonwealth Court unanimously ruled the games as legal last December.

It’s certainly possible the Pennsylvania Supreme Court weighs in to determine the legality of them. But as of now, the games are legal and pointing to regulation.

Photo by PlayPennsylvania
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Corey Sharp

Corey Sharp is the Lead Writer at PlayPennsylvania bringing you comprehensive coverage of sports betting and gambling in Pennsylvania. Corey is a 4-for-4 Philly sports fan and previously worked as a writer and editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer and NBC Sports Philadelphia.

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