HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Games of skill machines are found all across the state in bars, restaurants, even grocery stores.
Champions Sports Bar in Dauphin County had three Pennsylvania Skill machines until agents with the Bureau of Liquor Control seized them on Monday.
“We had three of them on location: two uprights and a countertop,” Champions general manager Jason Naugle said. “[They] put pretty much tape around them and loaded them up on a truck, a big Penske truck out back. I thought it was a little aggressive the way they did it with no notification, no warning they were coming in.”
Naugle says customers are upset and they are losing money. Three bars in Dauphin County and two in Cumberland County were raided.
Pete Shelly, who represents Parx Casino’s public relations, says police should crack down on these machines.
“Gov. Wolf and the Wolf administration and Pennsylvania State Police are absolutely right to start to go after these machines. They’re everywhere. They’re out of control and they need to be shut down,” Shelley said.
State police say the machines were from four different manufacturers; eight were made by Pace-O-Matic.
“We argue that we’re legal games of skill. That has been established from a Commonwealth Court ruling in Beaver County and we are not regulated under the Gaming Act,” Pace-O-Matic spokesperson Jeanette Krebs said.
Pace-O-Matic had petitioned the court which led to a judge ordering the Bureau of Liquor Control enforcement to stop seizing any Pennsylvania Skill machine, pending a hearing on the matter on Friday.
Opponents of the machines are demanding regulations.
“It’s hurting seniors, it’s hurting minors, and no one ever bargained for turning a pizza parlor on Market Street or a convenience store over here on Second Street into a slots parlor,” Shelly said.
Pace-O-Matic is calling for legislation that would provide enforcement and taxing of legal games of skill.
Regardless, local bars just want answers and their customers to come back.
The hearing for the emergency injunction is scheduled for Dec. 23.
Pennsylvania State Police said in a statement:
“The Pennsylvania State Police is in receipt of the order issued by Commonwealth Court. The department will comply with the order. Investigations into illegal gambling activities in the commonwealth, however, will continue during this time. The State Police continues to view the so-called Games of Skill, which have proliferated throughout the state, as illegal gambling devices and will continue to vigorously pursue all legal avenues to combat this unlawful and detrimental activity.”