During the summer, Wyoming hosts its most famous event, Cheyenne Frontier Days, which boasts of being one of the biggest outdoor rodeo and Western celebrations in the world. A professional bull-riding competition is just one of the many attractions of this year’s festival, which also features a music series, carnival, parade, cook-off, and air show.
A group of Pennsylvania politicians, including House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R., Centre), were treated to a special showing of the spectacular by Pace-O-Matic this past summer. According to the information provided by the corporation, the event served as a fully paid-for getaway for some of the legislators.
Skill game firms like Pace-O-Matic have been engaged in a financial and influence battle with casino owners and other strong gambling interests in Wyoming. This trip is the latest illustration of this mainly covert power struggle.
Manufacturers of skill-based games argue for the wide acceptance of their products via state approval. Casinos and other gambling businesses, however, have said for years that the state’s gaming industry is already overcrowded and that adding more options would just drive down profits for current businesses.
Pace-O-Matic, headquartered in the state of Georgia, manufactures skill games, which are similar to slot machines that now produce millions of dollars while operating in legal and regulatory limbo in the state of Pennsylvania. The legislative process will be essential in clarifying this ambiguity.
“We invited Pennsylvania lawmakers from the House and Senate gaming committees and leadership to the event for the opportunity to meet with Wyoming legislators to learn how they regulated the skill game industry and how the system now successfully works in the state.”Mike Barley, Pace-O-Matic spokesperson
Naturally, there is reason to believe that there is more to these initiatives.
State legislators who can play the role of kingmaker are profiting handsomely while the battle rages on. At the moment, there are no restrictions placed on the amount of money that can be accepted as campaign contributions from those involved in the gambling industry. Additionally, there are no restrictions placed on the types of gifts that politicians can accept from those individuals or from the lobbyists that represent them.
However, legislators are obligated to disclose the trip on their yearly ethics statements, and the corporation said it would declare any relevant expenses on its lobbying disclosure forms. Elected officials may accept gifts of any value, but must report those that exceed $250 in value and those that include travel or hospitality that cost more than $650.
However, the 2022 disclosure forms won’t be made available to the general public until May of the following year. It remains to be seen, though, how it would affect the future of Pennsylvania’s gambling business. Still, Pace-O-Matic seems to be very committed to its lobbyist efforts.