Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Looks to Join in on Court Case Involving Skill Games

In the state of Pennsylvania, unregulated gaming machines created by Pace-O-Matic that are being distributed as skill games have been under the microscope for quite some time. A court case involving the machines is underway to determine if they are legal or illegal. For the most part, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has stayed out of the case but now they want to chime in.

The case began in civil court after the police department in Philadelphia seized machines and their proceeds from wagering along with enforcement actions by the state’s Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement. The case is reviewing the legality of the machines as well as who has the authority to police and regulate the games.

PGCB Weighs In

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has petitioned the court to become involved in the case, stating that it applies to one machine by Pace-O-Matic and the software used. This interpretation means that the case does not set a precedent for all machines that the company claims are skill based.

Executive director of the Board, Kevin O’Toole, signed the petition and in it, denies the skill based machines are legal when located outside a slot machine facility that has been licensed by the Board. Just a few days before the petition was revealed, Board spokesman Doug Harbach, commented that efforts to stop the devices from spreading outside of casinos is a criminal matter.

According to Harbach, the illegal or unregulated games are a criminal manner not a regulatory one, so that Board is not responsible for acting on the activity.

No Licensing

According to the petition, the Pace-O-Matic company is not licensed by the Board. The company operates such machines but does not pay a tax rate or a local share assessment like other slot operators. Providers of slot games pay a 34% daily tax based on gross terminal revenue and a local share to the host municipality.

According to the Board, the manufacturer does not restrict the age of gamers to 21 years of age or older, the legal age to wager in the state. The Board also pointed out that Pace-O-Matic does not take any measures to treat problem gambling or fight the issue. They also do not have an exclusion list like licensed gaming operators to provide players with an outlet for assistance when needed.

The Board has decided to come forward in this case after the gaming company asked for their devices to be deemed games of skill based on state law. Pace-O-Matic is also seeking an injunction that would stop the seizure of their games as well as arrests and prosecution based on the machine operations.

Pace-O-Matic has spoken out after this change of tune by the Gaming Control Board. Michael Barley of the company stated that he thinks the opinion change is odd and has no idea why the Board decided to get involved. Barley further stated that the games created by Pace-O-Matic are of predominant skill and the company is confident that the games legal status will be confirmed.


Logan is based in Los Angeles and is an avid poker player having played in tournaments across the globe. He covers both poker & regulatory affairs.