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Betting.net / News / Pennsylvania skill games prevail in legal battle, backed by court

Pennsylvania skill games prevail in legal battle, backed by court

Publish Date:December 3, 2023
Fact checked by: Jesse M Cox
w, tags: pennsylvania skill games legal - images.unsplash.com

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Pennsylvania skill games achieved a huge legal win on Saturday as the Commonwealth Court affirmed a lower judge’s ruling. The court determined that the terminals in restaurants, bars, stores and clubs are not illegal gambling devices.

Furthermore, the court, reviewing Judge Andrew Dowling’s March conclusion, agreed that the skill games comply with the state’s Gaming Act and Crimes Code. Judge Dowling emphasized the necessity for chance to predominate over skill for a game to be considered gambling.

“Simply because a machine involves a large element of chance … is insufficient to find the machine to be a gambling device,” Dowling said.

Huge win for skill gaming

In determining the element of chance in a skill game, the county judge established that it lies with the player, not the machine. This is a contrast to slot or gambling machines, where chance is machine-driven.

Judge Dowling directed the return of skill gaming machines seized by state police and any confiscated cash from skill gaming operations.

Pennsylvania Skill, the state’s leading skill gaming title, is developed by Georgia-based Pace-O-Matic (POM), with cabinets manufactured and distributed by Pennsylvania-based Miele Manufacturing.

Unlike Las Vegas-style slots that automatically reveal results, Pennsylvania skill games require players to identify winning paylines. The slots rely heavily on skill to pinpoint animated reel symbol combinations.

Players have to match three symbols vertically, horizontally or diagonally across nine symbols, with 30 seconds to tap the terminal before the round concludes. As ruled by the Commonwealth Court, this highlights skill as the decisive factor in determining player outcomes.

“The POM machines at issue in this case are not slot machines as commonly defined,” Commonwealth Court Judge Lori Dumas wrote in the majority. “Accordingly, these electronic games are not illegal. Further, applying the predominant factor test adopted by this Court … these POM machines are not gambling devices and therefore do not constitute derivative contraband.”

Attorney Susan Affront, representing Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry, confirms the state’s intention to appeal the Commonwealth Court’s decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Pennsylvania’s casinos allege that skill games are diverting business from their establishments. Slot machines, taxed at 54 percent, contrast with skill games that offer no tax advantage.

Skill gaming firms commendably propose legalizing and taxing their games for player confidence. Legislation in Harrisburg aims to both legalize and restrict these games.

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