Pennsylvania Senator Gene Yaw announces plans for legislation to tax and regulate “games of skill”

November 10, 2021

They’ve made their way into bars and convenience stores across Pennsylvania, but the so-called “skill games,” which critics have called unregulated and illegal, are the subject of a big deal in Harrisburg.

While some want gambling banned, arguing that it causes millions of dollars in lost revenue each year for the Pennsylvania lottery and casino industry, a Republican state lawmaker – who views them as a lifeline for business – wants to tax machines.

“Skill games are an important part of the small business economy in our state and will be a way to ensure everyone gets past the pandemic,” Senator Gene Yaw told reporters, R-Lycoming, at a press conference. Wednesday press conference.

Yaw, joined by state officials Jeff Wheeland, R-Lycoming, and Danilo Burgos, D-Philadelphia, has announced plans for legislation, dubbed the “Skill Gaming Act,” which will tax and regulate skill gambling.

“We want to do it right – not just do it,” Yaw said, adding that work on drafting the text of the bill was underway. “A colleague of mine from Philadelphia asked a question about law enforcement in Philadelphia, so we are working on that issue right now.”

Pace-O-Matic, a Georgia-based company that manufactures “Pennsylvania Jurisdictionmachines, has spent more than a million dollars lobbying in Pennsylvania since 2018, says State Department recordings. The company also hosted an elected officials event at the Federal Tap House in downtown Harrisburg, one of two games related to skill games.

Earlier this year, Pro Tempore Senate Speaker Jake Corman, Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward and House Speaker Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, had planned to return the action committee’s campaign contributions. Operators for Skill policy, GoErie reported in June. The PAC receives funding from members of the gaming industry, including Pace-O-Matic employees.

Yaw retained the PAC contributions, referring to a 2014 court ruling in Beaver County that ruled the machines legal.

In the same week that lawmakers announced plans to return contributions to the PAC campaign, Pennsylvania lottery officials and law enforcement officials testified before the Senate Committee on Community, Economic Development. to be creative.

They asked the Legislature for help in tackling “illegal” skill games, saying unregulated machines cost an estimated $ 145 million in scratch ticket sales each year. The Pennsylvania Lottery helps generate billions of dollars for programs that benefit seniors. They also noted that it is often difficult to distinguish machines that are not licensed by the state.

Yaw said his legislation will include regulatory and enforcement measures, as well as “sufficient taxes” that the industry will pay to the state, he said.

Wheeland, who said he spoke with lottery retailers that also host skill games, argued that lottery sales were increasing at places offering both deals. He is introducing a companion bill to the House of Representatives that will help law enforcement remove “illegal” gambling originating outside of Pennsylvania and operating in bars, convenience stores and restaurants.

“Skill games are fun,” he said. “It’s just a good thing for our clubs and our small businesses right now.”


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