Last week, the Commonwealth Court ruled Pennsylvania skill games as legal. Despite a big win for the machines, the legal battle is far from over. The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office plans to appeal the decision at the Supreme Court level.
The appeal process could take at least several months or even another year to figure out. However, it doesn’t appear that skill games are going anywhere anytime soon, which can impact the regulated gaming industry, including PA online casinos.
Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office looks to take PA skill games case to Supreme Court
The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office said back in September that skill games are “clearly” slot machines and not games of skill. However, it does not have the authority to ban the games.
After the Commonwealth Court legalized skill games in a decision last week, the Attorney General’s office plans to take action. It confirmed to PlayPennsylvania that the office intends “to seek review from the Supreme Court,” according to a spokesperson.
The Attorney General’s (AG) side disagreed with the Commonwealth Court’s latest decision to legalize skill games. In September, the AG’s office pitched the higher court to join in on the ruling. The court brief read:
“To the extent that the phrase ‘slot machine’ in the Crimes Code requires further clarification, this Court should join the Superior Court in concluding that the Crimes Code and the Gaming Act should be read together.”
The AG’s office did not provide PlayPennsylvania with a timeline of the expected appeal at the Supreme Court.
Legal battle for Pennsylvania skill games not going away
The Commonwealth Court ruling skill games are legal does not mean the dispute is over. Since there is no timeline for the appeal, there is no telling exactly how long the case could drag on.
Despite the machines being ruled as legal, skill games are going to continue to be in the news for two reasons:
- The appeal process
- Regulating skill games
As of now, skill games are here to stay. In the midst of the appeal process, there is going to be further discussion on potentially regulating and taxing the machines.
Senator Gene Yaw (R-23) proposed a tax framework in June that could generate an estimated $300 million in immediate annual tax revenue, according to Yaw.
During a policy hearing in August, Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) Executive Director, Kevin O’Toole, requested responsibility to regulate the games. He said in August:
“It is also the Board’s position, should the General Assembly decide to legalize and regulate skill-based games in any context, that the regulation of this activity be put under the Board’s jurisdiction. As it is the Board that is the only agency in the Commonwealth with the ability, the experience and the know-how to regulate slot machine activity.”
The entire regulated industry, if not all of it, is against skill games as they take business away from retail and online casino operators, in addition to their lack of consumer protections.
Even though skill games have to jump through another hoop with the AG office’s expected appeal, skill games have the upper hand and appear to be here to stay.