The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania officially confirmed the decision of the lower court on November 30, declaring “skill games” played for cash prizes to be lawful. The unanimous decision, with a vote of 7-0, upheld the ruling by the Dauphin County court, which stated that the devices in question were not non-legal gambling devices or slot machines. The court reasoned that the games are based on a coordination pattern called hand-eye, rather than chance.
This decision comes as a significant victory for the operators and manufacturers of the skill game devices, which have become increasingly common in gas stations, bars, and restaurants throughout Pennsylvania. The ruling means that businesses and nonprofits can continue to offer clients the opportunity to play for cash on these devices, which bear a remarkable resemblance to slot machines found in casinos.
Peter Lanfranca, an employee at Mother’s Subs in Harrisburg, expressed his approval of the court’s decision, stating that the skill games in his workplace have helped generate additional income and business. However, not everyone is in favor of this development. The casino industry leaders have condemned the decision and are calling for lawmakers to take steps to ban what they consider to be untaxed and unregulated gambling.
Skill game machine developers, on the other hand, view the court’s decision as an opportunity to urge lawmakers to regulate and tax gaming income from these devices. They have suggested a bill that would create fees for manufacturers and operators, impose a 16% tax on earnings, and place restrictions on the number of devices allowed in one location. This tax rate is significantly lower than the 54% tax on casino slot machines.
The issue of addressing gambling addiction has also been raised in light of the court’s decision. Officials from the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania have called on lawmakers to ensure that the skill game machines include resources for individuals struggling with gambling or gaming addiction. While this legal battle might not be over yet, the court’s decision has polarized opinions and set the stage for further debates and actions in Pennsylvania’s gaming industry.