PA Gaming Review: Gambling Devices Seized, SugarHouse Slots Shine, PokerStars Wraps Another Series

Posted on March 4, 2020

The recent headline news is Pennsylvania State Police have stepped up the rate of confiscating cash and unlicensed gambling devices. Their actions follow on the heels of a favorable court ruling lifting an enforcement stay and the gaming board’s decision to label the unregulated machines as illegal.

In lighter news, SugarHouse online casino continues to dominate when it comes to online slots, and we have a few recommendations for some fun ones to try out.

And the 11-day, 32-event PokerStars PA Bounty Builder Series concluded March 1 at PokerStars PA exceeding its overall guarantees.

PA State Police seize 71 unlicensed gambling devices

Between January 22 and February 25, 2020, 71 gambling machines, including 65 video gambling devices, were confiscated from 17 liquor establishments.

More than $115,000 was seized and is subject to forfeiture, along with the devices.

The Philadelphia area in the Southeast topped the list with 16. Police took 13 devices in the Northeast near Wilkes-Barre and Williamsport.

Police reports routinely label the victim of the unregulated and untaxed gambling machines as “society.” PA officials are concerned the devices will cut into PA state lottery revenues earmarked for senior citizen programs.

PA Lottery executive director Drew Svitko told lawmakers last month skill games could lead to a $200 million decline in scratch-off ticket sales this year.

“Those skill machines are absolutely having an effect on the lottery,” Svitko affirmed.

But a gray area remains as to whether so-called skill machines are merely random outcome slot machines or truly based on skill. Expect to see the enforcement pressure to continue until a court or the Legislature steps in and provides definitive clarity.

SugarHouse Casino PA dominates online slots

The Keystone State boasts eight online casinos, a booming market segment as revenue was up by 31.4% in January as compared to the previous month. SugarHouse accounted for more than a third of PA online slot revenue.

With 65 slot offerings, SugarHouse has one of the most robust libraries of games, all of which can be tracked with PlayPennsylvania’s game tracker.

SugarHouse is best known for the frequent jackpot hits on the Divine Fortune progressive slot. The last big hit was on Valentine’s Day, when it actually came in twice. You can get to know the game with our review.

Butterfly Staxx by NetEnt remains super popular too, as does its sequel, Butterfly Staxx 2.

Turn Your Fortune, another NetEnt game, has a return to player of 96.2% and once you hit a re-spin or free spin feature, you’re guaranteed a win.

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PokerStars PA Bounty Builder Series

The latest series at PokerStars PA, filled with progressive knockout tournaments, was yet another success. Only two of 32 events in the Bounty Builder Series had overlays, with several tournaments featuring prize pools that doubled and sometimes tripled guarantees.

Both the Bounty Builder $75 and 6-Max Turbo events more than doubled their guarantees. The $50 buy-in 6-Max event more than tripled its $5,000 guarantee. That one attracted more than 300 entries to create a $15,242.50 prize pool.

The average participation in the 32 events of the series was almost 345 entries per event with 11,033 total entries. The Main Event ran on Sunday, March 1. The $300 buy-in event got 405 entries (including re-entries) to surpass the $100k guarantee by $13,400. The winner, “Shantag67” scored the final knockout to collect over $18,400.

Keep an eye out right here at PlayPA for future tournament series at PokerStars as well as specials at their sportsbook site, FOX Bet.

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Kevin Shelly

Kevin C. Shelly is an award-winning career journalist who has spent most of his career in South Jersey. He's the former assistant city editor of The Press of Atlantic City, where he covered the casino industry and Atlantic City government as a reporter. He was also an investigative, narrative enterprise, and features reporter for Gannett’s Courier-Post.

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