As a native Pennsylvanian, I’ve seen firsthand how the pandemic, and subsequent economic downturn, have impacted our state’s small businesses and fraternal organizations. That’s why I am proud to work for an industry that supports economic growth and provides a fun entertainment experience for Pennsylvania residents.

Pace-O-Matic, which powers Pennsylvania Kkill games, offers small businesses and organizations a way to make supplemental income. As the Chief Public Affairs officer, I often travel the state hearing the success stories of our legal skill game locations. They tell me all about things like the new roof they just installed, the parking lot they expanded, the pay raises they’ve given, the health benefits they now offer, and the community contributions they make. All this is possible because of Skill games.

Some may not know this, but Pennsylvania Skill Games are manufactured in Williamsport. Other Pennsylvania companies provide parts, trucking, and materials for the machines. The skill game industry has created thousands of Pennsylvania jobs, and, notably, about 90 percent of the money generated from skill games stays right here in the state.

The commonwealth now has a great opportunity to leverage the success of skill games to make even more of a positive impact on our local communities, including right here in the Philadelphia area. They can do this by passing legislation to tax and regulate skill games.

Senate Bill 706, sponsored by Sen. Gene Yaw from Lycoming County, calls for regulating all legal skill games. Pennsylvania Skill, which has a compliance team made up of former law enforcement officers, already requires our locations to follow strict rules. However, passing this legislation will establish state-imposed requirements, making it easier for law enforcement to crack down on illegal games and the mini-casinos brazenly popping up on our street corners.

The bill also establishes a new tax on each skill game machine, which would bring in an additional $250 million annually to the commonwealth’s coffers. It is rare that an industry comes to Harrisburg and asks state leaders to be taxed – but that is exactly what we are doing.

The bill also provides certainty and stability for small businesses and organizations that depend on skill games for long-term sustainable revenue. I am hopeful the measure will put an end to the sniping and untruths coming from skill game opponents, especially the out-of-state, millionaire-run casino industry.

In fact, the need for regulation is something almost everyone can agree on. Several testifiers at a recent state Democratic Senate Committee hearing in Delaware County, including representatives from the casino industry, relayed that regulating skill games is necessary and critical.

Why the casinos have taken issue with skill games is frankly something I may never understand. Extensive research from a Villanova University economics professor shows skill games have no impact on Pennsylvania casinos. The research finds that casinos do better financially in states where there are skill games. Plus, Pennsylvania’s casinos continue to break revenue records year after year.

As for the Pennsylvania Lottery, which also continues to break records while attacking skill games, studies show lottery play may increase if a skill game is in the same location. It also finds that lottery sales are higher in counties where there are skill games.

Other critics, with no legal basis, say skill games are illegal. Those statements contradict numerous Pennsylvania court decisions affirming skill games are legal. Many of these decisions have come from judges this year alone.

Let me clear this up once and for all. Legal skill games are not like casino games. With patience and eye-hand coordination, a player can win every time on a skill game. Casino slot machines, however, rely entirely on chance – no amount of skill will help you win.

Like any Pennsylvanian, I want to see my home state thrive. Our legislature has an opportunity to benefit small businesses and support community organizations like volunteer firefighters, fraternal clubs, and veterans groups while at the same time increasing state tax revenue. Policymakers can do all this while also ending the flood of illegal games pouring into our state.

For all these reasons, lawmakers must regulate skill games.

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