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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: October 20, 2017 03:54 PM
From: Representative Scott A. Petri
To: All House members
Subject: Defining Games of Skill
As you may be aware, so-called “skill games” have gained in popularity throughout the Commonwealth. Although these machines provide the player with a minimal amount of control over the stoppage of spinning reals in order to win a cash prize, these skill games are primarily chance-based for your average player and are basically slot machines. For this reason, I will be introducing legislation to define “gambling” and “gambling devices” in the Crimes Code in order to provide courts clearer parameters to determine whether an activity is illegal gambling.

Currently, Section 5513 of the Crimes Code prohibits unlawful gambling. However, this section does not contain a specific definition for “gambling”, which means this term has been defined through Pennsylvania court decisions. Through these decisions, courts have defined gambling as any activity that contains all three of the following basic elements: consideration (bet or wager), chance (outcome is based chance) and reward (cash, prize or anything of value).

My legislation will place definitions similar to the aforementioned court-established standard in statute; however, these new definitions will acknowledge that both gambling and gambling devices include chance-based games that incorporate an element of skill. Additionally, these new definitions will exempt true skill games such as arcade games that award merchandise prizes.

Please join me in cosponsoring this needed legislation. At this time, these skill games grow in popularity and are located not only located in bars and taverns, but are also located in sub shops, gas stations, and restaurants that are accessible to minors. Furthermore, these gambling devices are unregulated, untaxed and do not provide players with any problem gambling protections. For the aforementioned reasons, it is imperative that we close the statutory loophole that has allowed these skill games to proliferate.