A council meeting in Phoenixville was supposed to vote on a new entertainment center, which would include multiple Pennsylvania skill games, but has been pushed back a month. Rocket Amusement, an arcade game manufacturer, requested a “continuance” of the hearing during the Feb. 13 meeting to obtain additional time and information. After the council granted the request, a vote is now expected to take place on Tuesday, March 12.
The skill games debate has ramped up since Gov. Josh Shapiro recently included tax revenue from the machines into his proposed budget for FY 2024/2025 earlier this week.
There are arguments for both sides of the equation. The regulated gambling industry believes the games are “essentially” slot machines, therefore affecting retail business and the PA online casino market.
Potential entertainment hall featuring Pennsylvania skill games subject to vote
Rocket Amusement filed an application for open space in Phoenixville to host an entertainment center. The main attraction of the location would be Pennsylvania skill games.
Skill games have brought plenty of controversy to the state over the last several years. Gov. Shapiro appears on board with keeping the machines intact by instituting a proposed 42% tax on the games.
Rocket Amusement would have to pay the tax, should the budget pass. However, in the company’s application, it said it would not keep profits. Instead, the funds would go to free transportation for veterans who have doctor and dentist appointments, according to The Patch.
The facility Rocket Amusement is interested in is zoned in a “theater and entertainment center” of Phoenixville on Bridge Street. The application is attempting to change the zone to an “entertainment hall.”
With the strong possibility of skill games sticking around, there are likely to be more of these setups within the state soon.
Pennsylvania gambling industry open to possibility of PA skill games regulation
The regulated gambling market in the Keystone State, specifically Pennsylvania casinos, is not happy about skill games proliferating in the state. Many believe the games operate as slot machines. Parx Casino CEO, Eric Hausler, told PlayPennsylvania earlier this week:
“We continue to believe that the games in operation today are essentially slot machines. We still believe that the old adage applies: if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck.”
Because of that, and among other reasons, Hausler clearly noted that the regulated industry will continue its push to ban skill games. While that might be the ultimate goal, Pennsylvania casinos could settle for regulation, too. Hausler also told PlayPennsylvania:
“A rigorous regulatory and tax structure for skill games should remedy many of these concerns and put sensible limits on the location of these games.”
The fact that Gov. Shapiro plans to raise more money for the state through skill games means they are likely to stay. Pace-O-Matic (POM), a Georgia-based skill games manufacturer, is seeking regulation to create a “long-term, stable market.”
Entertainment centers with skill games are going to do just that.