Pennsylvania: Pace-O-Matic’s skill gaming machines ruled legal in Monroe County

Gaming machines manufacturer Pace-O-Matic (POM) has secured another legal victory in Pennsylvania amid its ongoing claim that its so-called “skill gaming machines” do not run afoul of the state’s commercial gaming laws. The company won another return of property motion for its Pennsylvania Skill Games, this time in Monroe County.

A county judge has ruled that the PA Skill machines are true games of skill and thus legal. The machines were initially seized in 2022 from a small business during a seizure carried out by the Monroe County District Attorney’s office, in coordination with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Liquor Control and Enforcement (BLCE).

In his ruling, Judge Mark said Pennsylvania Skill “devices are games of skill and not games of chance.” In a separate Monroe County ruling earlier this year on the seized skill games, a judge reprimanded county prosecutors alleging misconduct in the investigation and their prosecution of skill games.

Monroe County Common Pleas Judge Jennifer Harlacher Sibum wrote: “The court finds that the Commonwealth improperly withheld and misrepresented material evidence relative to the issuance of the search warrant in this matter, and that such conduct warrants the suppression of the seized property.”

Pennsylvania Skill games have also been deemed legal skill games by other courts this year. Pace-O-Matic won a return of property motion in York County, and a Dauphin County judge ruled in favor of the games and against county prosecutors in 2023. 

Pace-O-Matic’s Chief Public Affairs Officer Mike Barley said: “Again, another Pennsylvania court has found that Pennsylvania Skill games, powered by Pace-O-Matic, are legal games of predominant skill.”

Pennsylvania Skill games have now been ruled “games of predominant skill” by courts in Beaver, Dauphin, Monroe and York County, Pennsylvania. Games have also been returned in both Clearfield and Delaware counties.

With the legality of our games upheld repeatedly, we are eager to work with the Legislature to pass legislation that will fairly regulate and tax the skill game industry. In fact, Pace-O-Matic stands out among our competitors as the active driving force seeking additional regulation and taxation,” added Barley.

Legislation introduced by Sen. Gene Yaw would regulate skill games and tax them at a rate that would generate $300 million a year for the commonwealth, according to POM. The push comes as skill gaming machines continue to multiply inside venues such as restaurants and bars.

While skill gaming machines look and function similarly to Las Vegas-style slot machines, they come with one major difference: players must identify a winning payline, whereas a traditional machine automatically pays out on a winning spin. Supporters of the machines argue that the ‘skill’ element of recognizing winning lines render the devices immune from the Pennsylvania Gaming Act, which regulates legal gaming machines.

The legal status of the machines has continuously been challenged in court, and while several state judges have ruled in agreement with the skill gaming interest, the Pennsylvania Lottery and the state’s regulated gaming interests believe the devices should be deemed illegal.