Franklin & Marshall Poll Suggests Pennsylvanians In Favor Of Skill Games

Written By Corey Sharp on February 2, 2024 - Last Updated on February 7, 2024
Photo showing Pennsylvania skill games for a story about Franklin & Marshall College conducting a survey to see how PA residents feel about legalizing skill games.

Pennsylvania’s own Franklin & Marshall College conducted a survey that involved the legalization of skill games in the Keystone State. The majority of participants voted that skill games should remain legal, but taxed.

Skill games have been a controversial topic in Pennsylvania over the last several years. The regulated gambling industry, which is fighting to ban skill games, says the machines lack consumer protections and take business away from retail and PA online casinos.

56% of participants oppose banning Pennsylvania skill games

Franklin & Marshall College polled 1,006 registered Pennsylvania voters over an 11-day period in mid-January. While participants also answered political questions, skill games accounted for a large chunk of the survey.

Most recently, the Commonwealth Court ruled skill games as legal, but the debate continues to march on. Respondents were asked if they would favor or oppose banning skill games in Pennsylvania. Here are the results:

  • Strongly favor: 17%
  • Somewhat favor: 15%
  • Somewhat oppose: 27%
  • Strongly oppose: 29%
  • Do not know: 12%

About 56% of participants would at least somewhat oppose the ban of skill games.

The next question is about taxes. Currently, skill games are not taxed at any capacity in the Keystone State. Participants were given four choices about what they would do with skill games if the decision were up to them. They said:

  • Completely ban skill games: 16%
  • Impose taxes and regulations on skill games: 51%
  • Allow skill games to continue to be unregulated: 24%
  • Do not know: 9%

A resounding 75% are basically suggesting that skill games should continue to operate in Pennsylvania.

PA skill games manufacturer seeks regulation

Pennsylvania gambling set a record last year, generating $5.7 billion in revenue. Retail slots and online casinos accounted for the largest shares of revenue, producing $2.5 billion and $2.1 billion, respectively.

Pace-O-Matic (POM), a Georgia-based skill games manufacturer, released a statement last week to “congratulate” the industry on another record-breaking year. In the sarcastic compliment, POM’s Chief Public Affairs Officer, Mike Barley, said:

“These revenue numbers are the latest proof that skill games have no impact on casinos’ bottom line.”

POM and Barley are actively seeking to be regulated by the Commonwealth. He added:

“How often do industries come to the legislature asking to be regulated? We want lawmakers to look past this harmful narrative spun by the casinos – that is not backed by facts – and support small businesses by passing commonsense regulation of skill games.”

Pennsylvania Senator Gene Yaw (R-23) has created a tax framework that could supposedly generate approximately $300 million in immediate annual tax revenue.

As the Commonwealth Court ruled the games as legal, the decision could go to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Several organizations filed amicus briefs to the highest level.

There’s still much to be figured out about skill games. However, Pennsylvanians appear to want them as a gambling option. The rest is up to the courts.

Photo by PA State Police
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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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