Gambling Legislation

Pennsylvania lawmakers move to ban slot-like skill games

Pennsylvania lawmakers move to ban slot-like skill games

The state could follow Michigan and others in limiting gambling options

Pennsylvania lawmakers Senators Amanda Cappelletti and Representative Mark Rozzi recently presented legislation that would ban “skill” slot machines in the state. It’s a change that could impact a number of independent stores and businesses.

“In addition to preying on users of the machines, skill games also steal money that should be going to Pennsylvania Lottery programs that support programs for our senior citizens,” said Rozzi in a statement. “These games also divert casino patrons and negatively affect legal slot machine revenue.”

“Given the 52% tax rate on slot machine revenue, this reduces payments to the Property Tax Relief Fund, the Race Horse Development Fund and the economic development and local share accounts that routinely help pay for important local projects and the operations of numerous non-profit agencies, including volunteer fire companies and other public safety agencies,” he added.

Both lawmakers say that unsanctioned gambling devices often draw criminal activity looking to be avoided by the Pennsylvania General Assembly since it passed the Gaming Act in 2004. Amendments to the law in 2010 and 2017 additionally confirmed that gaming should happen only under regulated and supervised conditions.

“These gaming machines can be found in convenience stores, restaurants, malls, gas stations and other places of business throughout Pennsylvania,” said Cappelletti. “Despite the illusion that the state has oversight, there are no consumer-protection measures, prevention of play by minors, assistance for problem gamblers, money-laundering controls, or other regulations protecting Pennsylvanians from these predatory machines.”

The bill and its companion, Cappelletti’s S.B. 969, would amend Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes (Crimes and Offenses) to include the definition of a “slot machine” as stated in the Gaming Act. The 2017 amendments expanded the definition to include all skill games. Section 5513 of Title 18 states that slot machines are illegal unless they meet specific exceptions, including slots at regulated casinos.

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