Lawmakers in the Keystone State are still in the process of reviewing the legality of “skill games” that have been rapidly spreading across the state. Their spread is so significant that the state lottery has raised concerns citing the fact that these machines are cutting into Pennsylvania’s ability to bring in revenue which is mostly used for helping the elderly.
While their legality is still a rather ambiguous topic, it seems like the state police and offices of the liquor control enforcement department are no longer willing to sit on the sidelines. To that effect, these authorities have seized a total of 71 gambling machines from up to 17 licensed liquor establishments. Out of all 71, 65 were video gambling terminals some of which the establishments marketed as “skill machines”. All this went down between January 22 and February 25. Also seized during the crackdown period was a whopping $115,000.
Speaking on the issue, Jeffrey Rineer, the acting director of the State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement said that illegal and unregulated forms of gambling are becoming a menace. A number of traditional businesses have been installing the gambling machines at their establishments and most of them have been hiding behind the idea that the so-called skill machines are not illegal simply because they require “skill”.
The lottery’s spokesperson also weighed in on the matter pointing out that about 25 percent of the lottery’s retailers have installed the illegal gambling machines.
“We estimate that they are costing the lottery more than $200 million in sales annually, which really impacts our ability to responsibility generate funds for older Pennsylvanians,” the spokesperson said.
The biggest issue is that the machines pass as games of skill which means that they are essentially evading any responsibility that comes with being a legal and regulated gambling operation. Moreover, the revenue loss to the state is pretty significant since there is no proper mechanism in place to ensure that they pay taxes.
As we wait for the hearing on the lawsuit that has been filed against Pace-O-Matic’s subsidiary in Pennsylvania, the state police have warned that anyone who engages in any form of illegal gambling will be at risk of being prosecuted or face huge penalties.
Meanwhile, the state police have called for voluntary compliances in order to prevent cases where they have to raid establishments to stop illegal gambling. As mentioned earlier, there is still a lot of ambiguity especially when it comes to skill games. That said, the authorities might need to ensure that everyone gets the latest info on the matter before they can go in and continue with their confiscation.