PGCB Examining Dave & Busters Gambling, Another Real Money Skill Game

Written By Corey Sharp on May 7, 2024 - Last Updated on May 13, 2024
Pop-a-Shot arcade basketball game. The PGCB said it is looking into Dave & Buster's new skill games strategy allowing customers to place real money wagers on arcade games.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) told PlayPennsylvania it is learning more about Dave & Buster’s new strategy that would allow real money wagering on arcade games involving skill.

Pennsylvania skill games have been a huge controversy as of late within the state. However, Dave & Buster’s, an arcade and sports bar chain, opened another door when it announced that customers could compete against each other in basketball and skee-ball games using real money.

One state is already attempting to ban the behavior. Pennsylvania is not there just yet.

PGCB response to Dave & Buster’s plan

Pennsylvania has the fifth-most Dave & Buster’s locations, with seven spread across the state, including three in the Greater Philadelphia area and two in Pittsburgh.

Customers that are 18 and older are soon going to be able to use the Dave & Buster’s app to track wagers with friends and family for real money.

PlayPennsylvania asked the PGCB its thoughts on the announcement and the potential to step in and regulate the action. Communications Director, Doug Harbach, said on Monday:

“We are aware of the announcement, and it is something we’re looking into to learn more.”

As the PGCB continues to gather more information, it brings even more controversy to the idea of skill games in Pennsylvania.

The most prominent games of skill in the Keystone State are Pennsylvania skill games machines. Despite the Commonwealth Court ruling the games as legal last December, it hasn’t stopped the regulated industry from trying to ban the games, claiming that the machines act too much like slots.

Pace-O-Matic (POM), a Georgia-based skill games manufacturer, says that skill is required to win the game.

Skill is obviously needed to win playing basketball or skee-ball arcade games at Dave & Buster’s, too. The questions are:

  1. Is it legal?
  2. If not, what can the PGCB do about it?

Illinois attempting to ban Dave & Buster’s betting strategy

Illinois Rep. Daniel Didich got in front of the news quickly and has already introduced a bill to block Dave & Buster’s to allow real money betting. Part of the bill reads:

“Wagering facilitation prohibited. No family amusement establishment shall facilitate wagering on amusement games. Facilitating wagering on amusement games includes, but is not limited to, taking any action that knowingly allows any entity to facilitate gambling on amusement games on the family amusement establishment’s premises.”

There are 162 Dave & Buster’s establishments nationwide, with five in Illinois. California has the most with 22, followed by Texas’ 15 locations and New York’s 13.

Illinois is the only state to have already acted on the news. Ohio is also learning more about the situation, but has expressed skepticism, telling CNBC:

“The Commission does have serious concerns about the proposal – including that it appears to violate Ohio law regarding the facilitating of illegal prizes for skill-based amusement machines. We are reaching out to Dave & Buster’s for additional information.”

We’ll see if Ohio takes action next, with other states such as Pennsylvania, to follow.

How it might work for customers to wager against friends and family

Dave & Buster’s teamed up with Lucra, a technology provider, to improve the gaming atmosphere at the sports bar arcade.

Customers that are 18 and older would be able to compete for real money as well as earn rewards and unlock exclusive perks using the arcade gaming company’s app.

There will be a limit on the size of the wagers between players which could be as high as $10.

Lucra is a top-notch technology platform that focuses on gamification services. Several professional athletes have invested in the company, including former Eagle Zach Ertz, and his wife Julie.

Photo by Shutterstock
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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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