Philadelphia Mayor Signs Pennsylvania Skill Games Ban Into Law

Written By Corey Sharp on April 5, 2024
Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker ringing the bell at a Philadelphia 76ers game. Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker has officially banned Pennsylvania skill games from city gas stations and convenience stores.

A bill that would ban Pennsylvania skill games from certain Philadelphia businesses is now official. Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker (above) signed the document prohibiting city gas stations and convenience stores from offering skill machines.

Skill games have been a controversial topic for the state over the last several years. The bill Mayor Parker signed is strictly over public safety.

Ban of skill games in Philadelphia gas stations and corner stories now official

A bill that was introduced on Jan. 26 by Councilmember Curtis Jones has moved through the process quickly.

After City Council unanimously approved the bill last month. The finishing touch was for Parker to sign it into law. In the midst of the bill making its way to Parker’s desk, Pace-O-Matic (POM), a Georgia-based skill games manufacturer, said it has already taken legal action.

Much of the skill games debate has revolved around a lack of consumer protection and the business it takes away from regulated retail casinos, as well as PA online casinos. However, this bill addresses a public safety concern in Philadelphia. Parker said during a press conference:

“It is not okay to tempt our residents from low and moderate income neighborhoods with opportunities to gamble away their hard-earned dollars. It is not okay to give children purchasing candy an opportunity to gamble with their lunch money. It is not okay to create situations where those who are interested in mugging Philadelphians literally wait outside of gas stations in the middle of residential areas to rob people of money that they won.”

The new law includes the following guidelines to be able to provide skill games legally. Those are:

  • Licensed facilities as authorized and defined in the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act
  • Any location operating under a valid Commonwealth license to sell alcohol that has 30 or more seats readily available and in place for regular use by customers to consume food and beverages

An establishment that violets the ordinance would be required to pay a $1,000 fine per device.

Philadelphia is ready for any legal action, says Parker

There have been multiple lawsuits filed against Philadelphia because of the skill games ban. As previously mentioned, POM filed theirs as soon as the bill moved to Parker’s desk. POM spokesman, Mike Barley, told PlayPennsylvania last week:

“Because City Council passed the ordinance, we have been forced to take legal action against the city to protect the interests of hardworking Philadelphia business owners. On Thursday, we filed a lawsuit in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. The lawsuit is premised on the multiple ways the ordinance would violate the state and federal constitutions.”

G&B Amusements and 7-Eleven franchise owner Tariq Jahlil also filed a lawsuit against the Court of Common Pleas, claiming City Council has no authority over gaming.

During her press conference, Parker made it clear that she’s not afraid of legal action. She said:

“As soon as the bill was passed, I read all of the articles that said this legislation is going to face legal challenges in the court of law. Those who served with me on council know I wholeheartedly believe that’s why we have the best law departments in the Commonwealth. I want you to know, Councilmember Jones, I am ready, willing and able. … If there’s something we need to do or a place we need to be to stand up for legislation sponsored by our city, I want you to know that you won’t be there alone. Your mayor will be right by your side.”

Despite the bill being signed into law, the fight against the new legislation appears to have just started.

Photo by Matt Slocum / AP Photo
Corey Sharp Avatar
Written by
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.

View all posts by Corey Sharp
Privacy Policy