Gambling Legislation

Pennsylvania court stops attempt to legislate skill games

Pennsylvania court stops attempt to legislate skill games

A court determines that slot-like skill games are not a form of gambling under state law

In a unanimous decision, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania has ruled that Pace-O-Matic (POM) gaming terminals are not slot machines but are skill games, as defined by state law.

Siding with POM, the developer and distributor of the machines in question, the appellate court ruled that their gaming terminals are not slot machines as the Commonwealth asserted, but are rather “primarily games of skill and, thus, not gambling devices per se,” concluding a long legal fight over how to classify the company’s devices.

“The POM machines at issue in this case are not slot machines as commonly defined,” wrote Judge Lori A. Dumas in the decision. “Accordingly, these electronic games are not illegal per se. Further, … these POM machines are not gambling devices per se and, therefore, do not constitute derivative contraband.”

A leading skill games provider in Pennsylvania, POM has long contended that its machines depend more heavily on skill or the ability to resolve outcomes than slot machines, where results are decided randomly.

Harrisburg Lawmakers have argued the standing of POM machines, noting consumer protection and regulation concerns. State Senator Amanda Capelletti declared in July that she would introduce a proposal to prohibit skill games in Pennsylvania.

“Despite the illusion that the state has oversight over these machines, there is (sic) no consumer protection measures, prevention for minors, assistance for problem gamblers, or other regulations protecting Pennsylvanians from these predatory machines,” wrote Capelletti in a co-sponsorship memo aiming for legislative support.

The bill, SB 969, has been directed to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it’s awaiting a vote.

Pace-O-Matic CEO Paul Goldean says news of the court’s ruling is a “major victory.” He said in a statement after the ruling, “Our games have always been legal, and this ruling proves that once and for all.”

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