In Pennsylvania, there have been concerns involving illegal gambling devices. The state’s Gaming Control Board recently approved grant money to help law enforcement agencies take action against such machines. The money could easily be used for investigation needs but apparently, no one is interested. Police departments, task forces and district attorneys are not coming forward to use the funds. As much as $2 million has been set aside for this very subject.
During this months meeting, the board approved four grants which equaled $740k. Because applications were not filed for the previously approved funds, they have reopened the process. The board had already approved $1,260,000 for investigations earlier this year.
This month, the board approved just over $221,000 for education and enforcement efforts by the police department in Bensalem. For the district attorney’s office in Cumberland County, just over $154,000 was put aside for salary needs along with capital equipment, training, etc.
A total of $250k was provided for the district attorney’s office in Delaware County for enforcement, training and salaries. The Dunmore Police Department and the district attorney’s office of Lackawanna County will share $114,802 to complete an ongoing investigation along with covering costs.
Fighting the Good Fight
Illegal gambling in the state mainly centers around what is being called skill games. Thousands of machines are offered at public locations like convenience stores and bars that are operating in a gray area.
A debate has been ongoing over the years about the machines as police and other agencies bust up operations in the state that involve video poker and sports betting. investigations into illegal gambling have been considered low priority due to other enforcement responsibilities.
As far as the skill games are concerned, the legality of the games is the main issue. The courts and new state legislation will most likely be needed to decide the outcome of this question. The locations that offer the skill games say they need to be able to operate as that is what helps them stay afloat.
However, the casino industry and the lottery are not approving. They feel that the games are cutting into their revenues and they want the games shutdown.
Since March 17th, the casinos in Pennsylvania have been shut down. Players have not had access to gaming options. Even truck stops that offer legal video gaming have been shutdown due to the coronavirus outbreak. However, those who are operating these so-called illegal games can still provide gaming services.
The skill games are unsanctioned, so they do not fall under the shutdown order of the gaming venues by the governor. A group that backs the Parx Casino is currently working to see that players cannot play these games right now, due to the outbreak.
The group is calling out the devices as a way for the sickness to spread as the virus can live on the surface for an extended period of time.