Pennsylvania’s Gaming Operators Advocate for the Legalization of Skill Games

Pennsylvania casinos are still hopeful that the state can legalize skill games. But, their opponents refer to these games as gray games and claim that they contravene the Race Horse Development and Gaming Act.

Several commonwealth lower courts have favored skill game developers in their rulings. But, the state's six casinos are planning to petition the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to reconsider skill games. Their attorneys claim that skill game machines are operating illegally in the Keystone State.

Pace-O-Matic (POM) is among the most popular skill gaming terminals manufacturers in the region. Its machines resemble Las Vegas slot machines but they have a different mode of operation.

a machine asks a gambler to select the winning pay line rather than automatically informing them whether they lost or won their wager. This aptitude feature is a crucial skill component.

Gaming terminals' supporters and POM officials say that the skill component makes the games skill games instead of games of chance. The Pennsylvania Gaming Act doesn't control skill games hence allowing some judges in different courts to support POM. Their rulings came after POM sued state agencies like the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue and the Pennsylvania Bureau of Liquor Control and Enforcement (BLCE) for possessing its assets.

Do Skill Games Have a Future in Pennsylvania?

Monroe County and Dauphin County court judges ruled that Pennsylvania illegally collected POM's gaming machines, cash, and equipment from more than four operators in 2021. The Pennsylvania State Police and BLCE partnered during the raids. Yet, the courts stated that the law enforcers shouldn't have seized the machines.

Mike Barley, Pace-O-Matic's spokesperson, stated that the court ruling affirmed that skill games are legal. Besides, it is a huge success for Pennsylvania Skill games that Pace-O-Matic powers.

Skill games fans state that gaming machines will mostly benefit small enterprises rather than multibillion-dollar businesses. Host ventures often share a skill gaming machine's revenue with the route distributor and manufacturer as Pennsylvania doesn't tax the income.

Even so, the machines' opponents say that they are adversely affecting the state's gaming and lottery industry which aids it through different tax-sponsored programs. They add that the machines don't offer consumer protection since the gaming regulators don't monitor them.

The Supreme Court Petition

Attorney Joel Frank from the Lamb McErlane law firm recently filed a notice of appeal after the court's latest rulings which favor POM. The attorney represents Wind Creek Bethlehem, Harrah's Philadelphia, Hollywood Casino at The Meadows, Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, Mohegan Pennsylvania, and Parx. He urges the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to review Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough's 2019 ruling stating that law enforcement cannot seize POM machines since the Gaming Act doesn't govern them.

McCullough stated in November 2019 that the Gaming Act is inapplicable to POM Game. Even so, local casinos haven't successfully appealed the gaming ruling.


A sports enthusiast, Ryan helps cover sports betting news from around the country, highlighting some of the more interesting events going on in the USA.