The Pennsylvania Video Gaming Association (PaVGA), the statewide trade association representing manufacturers, distributors and operators of video gaming terminals, continues to support legislation to ensure that skill games are subject to the same regulatory requirements as gambling devices. Currently, skill games are not regulated by any state agency and are not subject to gaming taxes on net revenues as are slot machines, video gaming terminals (VGTs) and iGaming platforms.
“Regulation would provide much-needed revenue to small businesses like bars, restaurants and veterans’ clubs, which would benefit from VGTs in those locations. The anticipated revenue from VGTs versus skill games is substantial,” stated PaVGA Executive Director Denise Calabrese. The operation of these games in bars, clubs and restaurants will provide a viable, sustainable revenue stream for struggling establishments who have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a stable base of new revenues to the Commonwealth.
“Because there has been no alternative sustainable option to gaming revenue for bars, veterans’ clubs, and restaurants throughout Pennsylvania, those venues have turned to the skill game industry for that revenue,” Calabrese explained. “The issue is that these devices, and the companies that own and manufacture them, are not regulated and there is no oversight of those companies, the individual’s who own those companies, or the devices. Pennsylvania’s bars, restaurants and veterans’ clubs, Pennsylvania Operators, and the thousands of consumers who choose this form of entertainment, deserve to know that their gaming options are being overseen by a government agency and that proper protocols are in place to protect them.” PaVGA believes that the Pennsylvania General Assembly needs to pass legislation with urgency to resolve this issue and ensure that any gaming devices operated in the Commonwealth are subject to the full oversight of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).
During a Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee hearing on June 7, a Pennsylvania Senator stated there could be as many as 55,000 unregulated skill games currently in operation in Pennsylvania. While opponents to skill game regulation warn of detrimental impacts to the Pennsylvania Lottery and casinos, both continue to realize record high revenues. Furthermore, the same operator-based model PaVGA is advocating for in Pennsylvania has been successfully implemented in Illinois with negligible impact on the revenues of the lottery or casinos.
“All we want to do is bring these unregulated games under the purview of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to ensure that adequate protections are in place for consumers, establishments and operators,” Calabrese said. “This is more about applying equal standards to skill and gambling operations in the Commonwealth than it is VGT expansion. We have a statutory and regulatory structure already in place in the Commonwealth that provides for the safe, fair and equitable operation of VGTs. Skill games should be brought under that construct and be treated just like current gambling devices.”
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