PA Skill Games Legal Battle Heading To State’s Supreme Court

Written By Corey Sharp on March 27, 2023 - Last Updated on March 28, 2023
PA Senator Gene Yaw continues to push for the legislation of skill games.

Pennsylvania skill games are going to the PA Supreme Court. Pace-O-Matic (POM), a manufacturer of skill game machines, is facing off against six PA casinos.

The legality of Pennsylvania skill games has been called into question for years. Of those years, POM has been able to operate in the Keystone State as legal games of skill.

The case is named POM of Pennsylvania v. Department of Revenue.

Pennsylvania skill games head to PA Supreme Court

Now it appears that the highest court in the state will rule on the legality of skill games in PA.

Lamb McErlane represents the six PA casinos in opposition of skill games. They are joining the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) and the Department of Revenue against POM in PA Supreme Court.

Stephen Cook, Chief Counsel for the PGCB, said in an emailed statement:

“The board believes the Gaming Act was meant to establish the law of the Commonwealth relative to all slot machine gaming, authorizing it at certain locations and on approved machines, while disallowing it everywhere, and on everything else.”

Lamb McErlane’s managing partner, Joel Frank, said he’s “pleased that the issue has now reached the state’s highest court.” He also added:

“It’s a widespread issue because they’re popping up everywhere.”

No date has been provided for the case.

PA skill games have won every case thus far

Since this case is going to the highest court in the state, it could be the final time the PGCB and the Commonwealth have a chance at winning.

Last month, a court order found that the Commonwealth wrongfully seized four PA skills devices in raids conducted by the Monroe County District Attorney’s office in 2021.

It determined they are legal games of skill and the Commonwealth had to return all items to POM.

POM spokesman Mike Barley said after last month’s ruling:

“Every time the legality of our skill games has been called into question, the legal status of our games has been upheld by the judiciary. Pace-O-Matic stands out among our competitors as the active and driving force seeking additional regulation and taxation. We remain steadfast in our commitment to working with the state General Assembly and asking for legislation providing additional regulation and increased tax money for the state.”

There have been other instances where the court has ruled in favor of skill games, too. In separate raids in 2019 and 2020 in Luzerne County, PA, the court ordered the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement (BLCE) to return skill games and cash to Pinnacle, another skill games manufacturer.

In an additional attempt to seize POM machines, a Clearfield County court order mandated that five skill machines, cash and other items be returned to POM in May 2022.

Barley and other skill games manufacturers are hoping for one more victory.

Why Pennsylvania skill games are considered a threat to the gaming industry

Skill games have been called into question mostly because the games are not regulated.

There have been occurrences of PA casinos removing slot machines because of similarities to skill games. The Pennsylvania Lottery has also stated that skill games have eaten into lottery revenue.

Penn Entertainment’s Jay Snowden has been publicly voicing his displeasure over skill games running rampant. Snowden also said that skill games lack consumer protection.

Banning skill games would be a massive win for the regulated gaming industry in PA.

Photo by Pennsylvania 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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