Philadelphia Looking To Ban Pennsylvania Skill Games In Corner Stores

Written By Corey Sharp on February 22, 2024
Photo showing Pennsylvania skill games in a corner store for a story about the proposal of a new bill that would ban PA skill games from corner stores and gas stations in Philadelphia.

A new bill introduced in Philadelphia would prohibit skill games in select locations within the city. Councilmember Curtis Jones instituted the bill last month that would limit the availability of machines in convenience and corner stores throughout Philly.

A number of legislators have serious concerns about skill games, not just because of the business they take away from retail and PA online casinos, but more importantly, the lack of consumer protections and uptick in crime where skill games are present.

Should the bill pass, businesses operating within certain criteria would still be allowed to carry games.

Public safety bill attempts to restrict PA skill games in Philadelphia

Councilmember Jones introduced the bill on Jan. 26 and it has already been passed through Committee earlier this week. This is not an issue with Pennsylvania casinos, as the Committee on Public Safety is in control of the bill. It reads:

“It shall be unlawful for a business to operate any casino-style or skill game that accepts cash payment for the chance of a cash reward and is not otherwise regulated by the State of Pennsylvania.”

The bill proposes that establishments must follow certain stipulations 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

In essence, convenience and corner stores throughout the city would be banned from providing skill games. Gas stations would also not be permitted. A business in violation of the ordinance would be required to pay a $1,000 fine per device.

There are 10 council members who have co-sponsored the bill.

Skill games manufacturer reportedly plans to fight Philadelphia ban

The ordinance, which is gaining momentum and was also introduced in January 2022, would hurt businesses and even Pace-O-Matic (POM), a Georgia-based skill games manufacturer.

According to 6ABC, POM is not going down without a fight. Matt Haverstick, who represents POM, said that the company is filing a lawsuit. POM has not responded to PlayPennsylvania’s request for confirmation.

POM has been a big proponent of taxing its games. Gov. Josh Shapiro took a step in doing so after including the machines in his proposed budget for FY 2024/2025.

Despite the Commonwealth Court unanimously ruling skill games as legal, POM could stand to lose some revenue should the games be taxed.

Chief Public Affairs Officer, Mike Barley, told PlayPennsylvania earlier this month why that’s OK:

“You trade whatever that short-term loss is for a long-term, stable market. Having that certainty for our small businesses, fraternal clubs and for us is worth it and beneficial.”

POM has been standing up to the Pennsylvania casino industry for years, issuing statements over the success the industry has and the lack of impact skill games would have. It now looks like POM is going to have to fight the legislature, too.

Photo by PA 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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