Skill game manufacturers have been in battle with Pennsylvania casinos for several years. In the midst of Pennsylvania casinos breaking gaming records, Pace-O-Matic (POM), a Georgia-based skill games manufacturer, congratulated the facilities … while also taking some parting shots in the process.
Pennsylvania skill games have recently been deemed legal by the Commonwealth Court. However, there’s still tension between the games and the legal gaming industry. A POM spokesman is advocating for skill games to be taxed.
Skill games manufacturer congratulates — and throws shade at — Pennsylvania casinos
Pennsylvania skill games most recently had the last laugh, after the Commonwealth Court ruled the games as legal earlier this month. Despite the games being legal, POM has not been quiet and content.
As the end of the year nears, Pennsylvania casinos are likely to generate record revenue numbers. Parx Casino Bensalem, the state’s top-grossing facility, produced $598.7 million in slots and table games revenue in 2022. It’s going to take a slight hit, as it is on pace to record $586.6 million in 2023 revenue.
POM spokesman Mike Barley expressed his feelings — with some thinly veiled shade directed at the casinos — in a press release last week:
“The Pennsylvania casino industry, including Parx Casino, continues to break revenue records, which we applaud, but sadly that isn’t enough for the gaming giants. They continue to attack small restaurant and bar owners and fraternal groups for wanting the opportunity to have a few skill games that provide much-needed supplemental revenue. Maybe, this time, the big guys can allow the little guys a small victory. Especially one that is allowing them to hang on during difficult economic times.”
Do skill games affect Pennsylvania casino revenue?
It’s difficult to discern what impact skill games have on Pennsylvania casinos. Even though there is at least a minimal impact, Pennsylvania casinos don’t appear to be hurting by any means.
However, it is a fact that several casinos have reduced slot counts over the past several months. Those include:
- Harrah’s Philadelphia: 150
- Mohegan Pennsylvania: 120
- Hollywood Casino Morgantown: 30
- Lady Luck Nemacolin: 19
During a PGCB meeting in September, Anthony Carlucci, President and General Manager of Mohegan Pennsylvania, specifically cited skill games as a reason for the reduction. He told the PGCB:
“The skill games have proliferated and if you do a correlation between that and our volumes going down, there’s a direct correlation.”
In 2022, Pennsylvania casinos posted $2.39 billion in slot revenue, the highest since 2012, and a record of $990.6 million in table games revenue.
How Pennsylvania casinos and skill games can coexist
The fact that skill games are not taxed — along with losing their business to skill games — is what most in the regulated and legal gambling industry are most upset with.
Pennsylvania Senator Gene Yaw (R-23) created a tax framework earlier this year that would regulate skill games. Regulation could generate an estimated $300 million in immediate annual tax revenue, according to Yaw.
Barley has expressed interest in regulation to contribute tax money for the state. Barley didn’t shy away from it in the latest press release, either. He added:
“Time and time again, the casino industry has repeated the lie that the businesses and clubs involved with skill gaming don’t want to be taxed and regulated. The truth is that the only thing standing between skill games being taxed and regulated is the influence of big casinos. We are urging the legislature to act and pass commonsense regulations that will support small businesses, fraternal clubs, and the commonwealth.”
It’ll be interesting to see how skill games play into the Pennsylvania gambling industry. Barley claims Pennsylvania casinos remain in the way of regulation.
Should skill games be regulated, Pennsylvania would be one of the most robust gambling states in the country.