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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: March 31, 2021 08:45 AM
From: Senator Gene Yaw
To: All Senate members
Subject: Small Games of Chance Legislation
In the near future, I plan to re-introduce Senate Bill 784 from last session amending the “The Local Option Small Games of Chance Act,” which will focus on both the charitable and tavern gaming sections of the act.

This bill is necessary to modernize the Small Games Act and bolster the fundraising mission of licensed charitable and non-profit organizations by allowing new style games to be played and easing certain unneeded restrictions. Specifically, the bill will:
  1. Allow the playing of Event Games, Progressive Pull-Tab Games, Subset Pull-Tab Games, and Pick Board Games to modernize the act.
  2. Eliminate the $35,000 weekly prize limit (*$2,000 prize limit on individual games would still apply).
  3. Eliminate the prohibition of paper pull tab games in excess of 4,000 tickets. This limitation is unnecessary and hinders the type of product available to PA licensees.
The proposed tavern gaming changes are necessary to create a less cumbersome, less expensive licensure process, and to make the penalties for violations more pragmatic. Presently, there are only 51 tavern small games licenses active in Pennsylvania.

More specifically, this bill will:
  1. Implement a more expeditious State Police process for criminal background checks.
  2. Eliminate the mandatory $1,000 background investigation fee.
  3. Reduce the application fee from $1,000 to $500; and initial license fee from $2,000 to $1,000.
  4. Establish that a small games violation shall not impact a liquor license.
  5. Reduce monetary penalties for violations:
    1. $2,000 to $800 for an initial violation.
    2. $3,000 to $1,000 for a second violation
    3. $5,000 to $2,000 for a third and subsequent violation
  6. Reduce criminal penalties for violations:
    1. 3rd degree misdemeanor to a summary offense for first violations; and
    2. 2nd degree misdemeanor to 3rd degree misdemeanor for second and subsequent offenses.
It is important to note that almost all of the changes proposed in this legislation were approved by the Senate last session as part of House Bill 864.

I hope you will join me in co-sponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as SB758