Illegal ‘Pennsylvania Skill Games’ Robbing Millions From Programs for Older Pennsylvanians

Pennsylvania Lottery officials, state Senator Tommy Tomlinson, the
Pennsylvania State Police and senior groups partnered to announce legislation to
combat illegal “Pennsylvania Skill Games” that have cost the Pennsylvania Lottery an
estimated $138 million in sales over the past year and put funding for vital senior programs
at risk.

Sen. Tomlinson is introducing Senate Bill 710 to address the illegal machines and protect
funding for senior programs. While Games of Skill machines are already considered illegal,
unlicensed and untaxed equipment by the commonwealth, Senate Bill 710 further
strengthens the existing law by making it a criminal offense for anyone to knowingly make,
assemble, maintain, lease or sell Games of Skill.

“These illegal machines are creating a huge risk for the older Pennsylvanians who rely upon
the programs the Lottery funds,” said Pennsylvania Lottery Executive Director Drew Svitko.
“The Games of Skill machines are appearing across the state and we are deeply concerned
the harm will only increase. Senator Tomlinson’s legislation will crack down on the
machines and preserve hundreds of millions of dollars that help seniors afford prescriptions, transportation, meals and more.”

As of today, there are approximately 5,050 Games of Skill machines in Pennsylvania Lottery retailers. The Lottery estimates that for every Games of Skill machine placed in a Lottery retailer, the Lottery loses approximately $2,284 per machine per month. That’s money that would otherwise be directed toward programs and services for older Pennsylvanians.

“I drafted this legislation after learning the impact these machines have on the Pennsylvania Lottery,” Senator Tomlinson said. “I am concerned about the negative effect these unregulated, unlicensed, untaxed gambling machines have on unsuspecting players, youth and Lottery funds which support essential services for our senior citizens.”

Under Tomlinson’s bill, a first offense would be a first-degree misdemeanor that carries a
fine of at least $5,000 per violation upon conviction. A second offense is also a first-degree
misdemeanor that carries a fine of at least $10,000 per violation upon conviction. A third or
subsequent offense would be a third-degree felony that carries a fine of at least $15,000 per violation upon conviction. These penalties create a deterrent that helps law enforcement address unsanctioned gambling.