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Skill Games Unwelcome in Philadelphia through Proposed Legislation

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The topic of skill games continues to be a contentious one across the US, although Pennsylvania will reportedly embrace them as legal gambling. However, Philadelphia apparently doesn't agree with the stance and is preparing its own legislation for their use inside city limits.

Philadelphia to Block Some Skill Games Sites

Philadelphia Governor Josh Shapiro has suggested a budget plan that would allow skill machines, resembling casino slot machines, to be legal but subject to a substantial 42% revenue tax, managed by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. The anticipated tax revenue from this measure is estimated to reach $150.4 million annually.

However, the Philadelphia City Council is deliberating a proposal that seeks to prohibit electronic skill games from being accessible in locations like corner stores and gas stations. Councilmember Curtis Jones has introduced this potential ordinance, which successfully passed through the City Council's Committee on Public Safety with unanimous support this week.

The proposed bill aims to declare it unlawful for businesses to operate any form of casino-style or skill game involving cash transactions if that business lacks regulation by the state. The city is currently grappling with the challenge of determining the extent of the presence of these machines in businesses and their exact locations due to the absence of regulation.

Businesses without a liquor or gambling license or those without at least 30 seats for serving food would be directly affected by this legislation. Any violations of this rule, should it become law, would incur a fine of $1,000.

During a recent committee hearing, Jones argued that these machines attract loiterers. He asserted that they potentially contribute to increased crime, addiction and violence within communities.

Philadelphia Businesses Fight Back

Local business owners who have invested in skill machines argue that their purchase was made with the understanding that it was legal. They also highlight the additional income generated by these machines, which has contributed positively to their businesses.

Pace-O-Matic, a software company specializing in skill machines, has expressed its intention to initiate legal action against the proposed law. Pace-O-Matic is the largest supplier of skill games in the state.

With 10 sponsors, including Jones, supporting the bill, it appears likely to secure passage through the City Council, indicating a significant level of backing from its members. However, the legal maneuvers by Pace-O-Matic and others could stall any attempt at enforcement for months or years.

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