Pennsylvania Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Williamsport) announced this week he plans to introduce a skill games legislation in the “near future.” The Pennsylvania gambling bill would establish a legal framework to regulate and levy an additional tax on skill games.
In his memo to state Senate members, Yaw says experts expect the Skill Video Gaming Act to bring in an additional $300 million to the Commonwealth’s annual tax revenue immediately upon enactment.
“Skill video games, operated in a regulated environment, will significantly benefit the Commonwealth by providing substantial revenue and creating jobs,” Yaw said in the memo.
The proposed measure would require all games to connect to a control system and terminal collection. This is to enable the state to monitor transactions to make sure all operators are paying taxes. The bill would also bolster penalties for any unlicensed operators and illegal games and gambling devices.
In addition to generating tax revenue and supporting local businesses, Yaw added the bill would help the state crackdown on the illegal games market.
In a video, he says he wants to “legitimize” skill games. He says right now there is no way to tell how many of these skill games machines are out there. “There is obviously a demand for this type of entertainment,” he says, pointing to lotteries and casinos in Pennsylvania that recently hit record highs in the state.
Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Supreme Court is expected to review whether skill games are illegal in *POM of Pennsylvania v. Department of Revenue* (DOR).
Lower courts ordered the Pennsylvania DOR to pay back Pace-o-Matic (the POM in POM of Pennsylvania). However, the DOR is now appealing the case at the highest judicial level in the state.
The issue at hand is whether skill games are illegal gambling. POM argues its video games are not gambling because they require skills to play and win. The state, and the casinos that stand to lose their playing customers, on the other hand, argue skill games are no different from slot machines. And in that case, require a casino license to accept money.
Yaw, who differentiates between games requiring skills and games of chance, plans to formally introduce the bill later in April. Yaw said in a recent press release:
“Pennsylvania’s skill game terminals are manufactured right here in Lycoming County and the finished products exist in fraternal clubs, veterans’ organizations and taverns, as well as other local businesses throughout the Commonwealth. Skill games are a piece of the small business economy in our state, and it’s time we recognize the benefits of this emerging industry and offer regulatory support so that we can ensure it flourishes – safely and responsibly.”