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10/23/2020 08:10 AM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20190&cosponId=29197
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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: April 11, 2019 09:37 AM
From: Representative Marcia M. Hahn
To: All House members
Subject: Title 18 Amendment
 
In the near future, I will be introducing legislation to clearly define slot machine in the Crimes Code to include “Pennsylvania Skill Machines”, which would make these machines illegal gambling devices.

As you know, “Pennsylvania Skill Machines” have proliferated across the Commonwealth over the past few years, and both law enforcement officials and gaming experts disagree on whether these machines are gambling devices. Confusion over these machines is due in part to the Crimes Code containing no definition of either slot machine or gambling. However, it is important to note that these terms have been defined through Pennsylvania court decisions. Through these decisions, courts have defined gambling as any activity that contains all three of the following elements: consideration (bet or wager), chance (outcome is predominately based on chance) and reward (cash, prize or anything of value).

It is on the element of “predominately based on chance” where experts disagree on whether these machines are gambling. However, regardless of whether these machines are primarily skill or chance-based, it is important to note that these machines both accept cash and allow players to win more cash than they pay into the machine, which I believe is substantially similar what is commonly believed to be gambling. For this reason, my legislation will define slot machine as any device that operates a game whereby you pay consideration and win anything of value, whether the device is based on skill, chance or a combination of both. The bill will also contain exemptions for amusement games (the typical arcade machine where you can win noncash prizes) and skill-based contests (eSports and other competitive gaming tournaments).

It is imperative that the legislature brings clarity to this issue as these machines are currently untaxed, unregulated and provide players with no problem gambling or consumer protections, which is present in all clearly-legal forms of gambling in the Commonwealth. I recognize that some individuals may argue that this legislation should be accompanied by a regulated/taxed path to legalization for these machines, but I believe it is imperative that we solve the legality issue first prior to a future debate on a regulated option. As you know, gaming expansion legislation is historically difficult to pass and may take years for the legislature to debate, and we cannot continue to allow these unregulated machines to proliferate during a lengthy debate.

For these reasons, I hope you will consider cosponsoring this legislation. If you have any questions contact Gail Pakosky at gpakosky@pahousegop.com or 717-783-8573.



Introduced as HB1407