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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: January 8, 2020 03:13 PM
From: Senator Jake Corman
To: All Senate members
Subject: Regulation of Games of Skill
As we have each experienced in our districts, unauthorized video gaming machines have proliferated into almost every corner of public establishments. The growth of these machines can be seen at convenience stores, pizza parlors and laundromats to name a few. These devices are currently unregulated. Consequently, there is no oversight to determine if these machines are operating fairly; no prohibition on minors playing the games; and the Commonwealth does not receive the same revenue as it would from other forms of gaming. Moreover, these devices are often placed next to Pennsylvania Lottery machines and have had a negative effect on lottery proceeds, which benefit older Pennsylvanians. Quite simply, the status quo is not an acceptable policy for the Commonwealth or our communities.

Games of skill have never been authorized by the General Assembly. Nevertheless, court decisions have determined that particular machines are not gambling devices under the Crimes Code, and therefore are not illegal. More recently, the Commonwealth Court held that although certain machines fit within the definition of “slot machine” and “skill slot machine” under the Gaming Act, those machines were not subject to the Gaming Act because they were not operating in licensed establishments.

In the wake of the Commonwealth Court’s decision, Pennsylvanians are left to wonder why similar machines are treated differently when they are located at casinos, truck stops, or convenience stores.

My legislation would eliminate the confusion and uncertainty regarding skill games by doing the following:
  • Aligning the regulation and taxation of skill games with that of video gaming terminals (VGTs).
  • Authorizing games of skill and VGTs to be operated within licensed establishments such as clubs and taverns, which cater to adult customers.
  • Placing skill game devices and operators under the oversight of the Gaming Control Board.
  • Requiring that skill games be connected to the central computer system just like slot machines and VGTs.
  • Declaring that unlicensed skill games constitute illegal gambling devices for the purposes of the Crimes Code.
  • Allowing for local control to opt-out of the placement of these machines within their jurisdictions.
Please join me in co-sponsoring this important issue.

Introduced as SB1256